Senate Bill 1437 provides a route to resentencing for defendants who have been convicted of murder under of the crime of “felony murder” in the state of California.
Typically, for a defendant to be convicted of murder they must have a mental state showing that they intended to kill another person or act with disregard for human life. Prior to SB 1437, if a defendant committed a felony and a person died as a result of that felony act, the defendant was guilty of murder regardless of whether or not the defendant intended for a person to die.
If three defendants conspire to rob a bank and one of them kills the bank teller, all three were responsible for the teller’s murder under the felony murder rule–even if the two defendants who were not the shooters did not know a killing would take place, or intend for anyone to be killed.
Until January of this year, this “felony-murder” rule was the law in California and 41 other states. Passage of SB 1437 eliminated the felony murder rule in California and only allows murder convictions for defendants who commit crimes where they are major participants in the underlying felonies and act with reckless indifference to human life.
For instance, in the previous bank robbery example if all three men started shooting toward a crowd of people and one person dies, all three could be found guilty under the new felony murder rule for acting with disregard for human life.
SB 1437 provides a way for defendants previously convicted of first- or second-degree murder under a felony-murder theory to ask the court to vacate their murder conviction and resentence them under new guidelines. Once a defendant petitions the court, the prosecutor has the burden of proof to show beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant is not entitled to a vacated conviction and resentencing under the new law.
If the prosecution cannot sustain their burden of proof, then the murder charge and any enhancements attached to this charge will be vacated, and the accused will be resentenced on any additional charges.
Additionally, if a person is entitled to relief under this new law, they will be given credit for time already served.
Contact the Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today For Help With Your Case
Do you or a loved one need help determining if a murder conviction can be vacated under the new rules of SB 1437? At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have more than 40 years of successful experience in working with people to manage their post-conviction lives and restoring their rights. Our dedicated and knowledgeable team of attorneys is ready to help review your record and discuss your options to clean up your record.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is an experienced and skilled Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.