Though the law may seem rigid, it is constantly changing and adapting to fit the current social situation and political climate. As our state and country evolve, politicians work hard to create new laws and systems that better serve their constituents. In many cases, this is a positive thing.
If you have been convicted or accused of a crime, it is important that you remain up to date on all changes to the laws that pertain to your offense so that you can take action if one of them affects the outcome of your claim. Senate Bill (SB) 1437 is a 2019 legal update that affects murder charges and sentencing. Those currently serving time for murder may be able to minimize their sentences by a significant amount, while others may be able to avoid incarceration altogether.What Is SB 1437?
In previous years, those who committed a felony such as carjacking, robbery, burglary, or a similar crime could be charged with murder if someone died during the felony or as a result of the felony actions. The law viewed any participant in the felony as culpable for the death and eligible for a murder charge.
For example, if you participate in a robbery as a getaway driver and your accomplices kill someone during the robbery, you may be charged with murder even though you were not directly involved in the death of the victim. Because you were part of the felony, you would also be considered responsible for the death that resulted.
SB 1437 changes the situation dramatically. Under this new law, a person cannot be charged with felony murder if they were not directly responsible for the death. To be found guilty of felony murder, a person must:
- Be the direct killer
- Assist the direct killer or encourage them to commit the crime
- Act with “reckless indifference to human life”
- Reasonably know that the victim was a police officer in the line of duty
- Act with intent to kill
If one or more of the above criteria are not met, a person cannot be found guilty under the new stipulations outlined in SB 1437.Whom Does SB 1437 Affect?
SB 1437 will be applied to all future cases in which a felony led to the death of a victim, as well as retroactively apply to cases that fit the criteria. In general, these new laws will affect those who were involved in a crime that led to a victim’s death but were not “major participants,” planners, or providers of weapons that led to the death. If you were simply an accomplice but were not physically or directly involved in the death, you will likely benefit from SB 1437.Re-Sentencing Under SB 1437
As mentioned, some people will be eligible for re-sentencing or retroactive application of this new bill. You may be one of these people if you were convicted of first or second-degree murder or if you accepted a plea offer but would have been convicted of first or second-degree murder if your case had gone to trial.
Re-sentencing under SB 1437 is not automatic, which means that many people continue to serve sentences that are based on outdated laws and standards. If you are currently serving time for murder in the first or second degree that was the result of a felony act and for which you were not directly responsible, you need to file a petition for re-sentencing under SB 1437.Applying for SB 1437
If you believe you may be eligible for re-sentencing under SB 1437, you must petition the court with the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney. Your petition for SB 1437 must outline why you should be eligible for re-sentencing under this new law. The more factors you can present in your favor, such as years served and authoritative arguments for release, the more successful your petition will be.
To apply for re-sentencing under SB 1437, it is beneficial to have the help of a murder defense or appellate attorney to help you make your case. These professionals can collect evidence in your favor, and they can also formulate an argument from this evidence to convince the court of your eligibility for re-sentencing. This is key, as many cases that do not involve a qualified attorney get denied by the court.
When you apply for reconsideration, the district attorney has the opportunity to provide an opposition argument to your case, and many take advantage of this option. If you want your re-sentencing application to be successful, you will need to refute the DA’s opposition argument — a task that requires a qualified attorney’s help.Order to Show Cause
If the court determines that there is a sufficient reason to explore sentencing, your case will proceed to the Order to Show Cause. During this phase of the process, you will present the evidence you have collected proving your lack of involvement under these new laws. Getting to the Order to Show Cause phase is usually a good sign for the outcome of your application, but it does not guarantee anything. You should still have your attorney with you to argue for your perspective throughout the claim.
If the court decides that a re-sentencing process is warranted under SB 1437, they will hold a sentencing hearing. It is absolutely crucial to have legal counsel during this phase, as the sentencing and re-sentencing laws that apply to your case are very complicated. Your attorney will be able to advocate for your rights and interests during this phase of the process.Related Laws
SB 1437 is not the only bill of its kind, and there are others that may affect your claim and your eligibility for re-sentencing. If you believe you deserve a re-sentencing or an appeal based on SB 1437 or any other bills or amendments, it is important to contact our office right away for legal help.SB 775
SB 775 is a senate bill that minimizes liability for those tangentially involved in certain crimes and acts to further the work that SB 1437 began. SB 775 expands the concepts from SB 1437 to cases of attempted murder or manslaughter — in other words, cases in which a murder was unsuccessful or the killing was deemed to be inadvertent rather than purposeful.
Before SB 775, the law would infer an individual’s involvement in an attempted murder simply because that person was involved in the felony being committed. That means the law would assume a person involved in a felony that resulted in an attempted murder was also involved in the attempted murder. SB 775 changes this assumption and asserts that a person’s participation in a felony does not imply their consent or support of a killing that nearly occurred during the execution of that felony. Rather, a person can only be held responsible for an attempt on someone’s life if they were directly attempting to cause it.
If you were found guilty of attempted murder, either in court or via a plea deal, you may have grounds for re-sentencing under SB 775. Speak with an attorney right away to begin this process and potentially minimize your punishment.PC 1172.6
Though SB 1437 and 775 deal directly with murder and manslaughter or attempted murder and manslaughter charges, PC 1172.6 is broader. This law allows California courts to recall a sentence or call for a re-sentence if they receive a recommendation from certain legal authorities. These authorities include:
- The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH)
- The DA or DA’s office
- The California Department of Corrections (CDCR)
- The sheriff
In some circumstances, these authorities identify cases that may be eligible for re-sentencing before the person serving time realizes that they are eligible. By allowing industry professionals to recommend re-sentencing, more people can achieve justice in their claims.
If you pursue the re-sentencing process, you will work closely with the district attorney. Though this may seem counterintuitive, know that the DA’s top priority is upholding the law. If new laws reflect the need for change in your situation, the DA will help to make it happen. They are not inherently against you and your pursuit of freedom. Rather, their job is simply to help uphold current legislation.Why Should I Apply for Re-Sentencing Under SB 1437?
The laws and legal updates surrounding re-sentencing in California are complex and confusing, leading many convicted individuals to avoid seeking re-sentencing. Many believe that the process will not make a difference, or they do not understand the impact that these laws can have.
Though SB 1437 does not apply to all situations, it can make a significant difference in the cases it does apply to. Murder and manslaughter are extremely serious charges that come with harsh and lengthy penalties. If you achieve re-sentencing under SB 1437, you may have years or even decades removed from your incarceration sentence. For many people, this is an opportunity for a new start.
Though incarceration, fines, and guilt are certainly sufficient punishments, you will likely face inadvertent consequences even after you get released from prison. Many people with felony records experience difficulties finding gainful employment and securing appropriate housing for themselves and their families. They may also face strained relationships with family and friends. Though a re-sentencing application will not undo these consequences, it can expedite the process of getting your life back. If you achieve a new sentence, you may also be eligible for other programs that benefit your future.Why Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for Re-Sentencing?
If you are seeking re-sentencing under SB 1437, SB 775, or another law, attorney representation can significantly improve your case. Many times, petitions for re-sentencing present isolated facts that imply eligibility for a new sentence but fail to tie these points together into an actual argument. An attorney can weave an argument from the facts of your case, giving you a higher likelihood to reach the court and achieve re-sentencing.
A defense or appeals lawyer can also help you to understand the laws that may pertain to your claim, as it is natural to misunderstand the penal code. Laws and legislation are complicated, and you may be missing opportunities to which an attorney could alert you. As mentioned, the law does not automatically apply new legislation to old cases. If you want the opportunity to achieve a lighter sentence or be released from incarceration, you need someone who understands all applicable laws. An attorney from Power Trial Lawyers can act as this individual for you.
Finally, it is important to understand that you have limited opportunities to file for an appeal or re-sentencing consideration. If your application is denied, you may not be able to file again or appeal the decision further. As such, it is essential that you make a concerted effort from the beginning, starting with help from a qualified defense attorney or appellate lawyer.Choose Power Trial Lawyers
For many years, our team at Power Trial Lawyers has been representing those accused of various state and federal crimes. We understand that an accusation, or even a conviction, is not necessarily an indication of guilt. Many innocent people face unfair charges daily, and thousands of wrongfully convicted individuals live in jails and prisons across the country. We work diligently to protect our clients from this fate and seek justice for those who have been wrongfully incarcerated.
Our experience in this field is an asset to our clients and their families. Even though you may be facing criminal charges for the first time, we have significant experience in a variety of these cases. We feel confident that we have represented clients like you and that this background prepares us to properly represent future clients like you and your family. Regardless of what you are facing, we have the training and experience to help.
Our firm is ready to schedule an initial consultation with you and begin the process to seek re-sentencing under SB 1437. To take advantage of this opportunity, contact us at Power Trial Lawyers today.