On September 30, 2018, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill No. 1437, which became effective January 1, 2019. This bill made changes to felony murder and murder under a natural and probable consequences doctrine. Before Senate Bill No. 1437, defendants could be charged with murder even if they were not the actual killer, did not intend to kill, or were not a major participant in the underlying felony who acted with reckless indifference to human life. The California Legislature passed Senate Bill No. 1437 in order to keep defendants that met these criteria from being charged with murder.
California Penal Code §1170.95 is a section in Senate Bill No. 1437 which may allow those who were convicted of murder before the bill had been passed to have their convictions vacated. If a defendant had been charged with felony murder or murder under a natural and probable consequences doctrine, under Penal Code 1170.95, it may be possible for them to have their conviction vacated, so long as they meet at least one of the bill’s criteria which are:
- they were not the actual killer,
- they did not intend to kill, or
- they were not a major participant in the underlying felony who acted with reckless indifference to human life.
What Are My Rights Under PC 1170.95?
Before Senate Bill 1437, prosecutors could convict defendants under a “natural and probable consequences” theory. Under this theory, if two people committed a felony, but only one person committed a murder during the felony, then the other participant could be charged with murder if the murder was a result of the felony occurring–even if they never actually killed anyone. Under California Penal Code 1170.95 you no longer can be convicted of murder just because you participated in a felony where someone was killed.
How Can I Request Resentencing Under PC 1170.95?
To request resentencing under PC 1170.95, you must petition the court with a legal document that clearly states why you deserve a new sentence pursuant to the language of Senate Bill No. 1437. If the court decides that you would not have been convicted under the new version of the law, then your murder conviction will be vacated and you can be resentenced on any remaining charges. It is important to have an experienced murder defense lawyer fighting for you if you intend to file such a motion. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped scores of defendants navigate the criminal justice system for over 38 years. For more information or to speak about your case call us for a free phone consultation.
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