Senate Bill 620 | Gun Enhancements & Resentencing

California State Senator Steve Bradford authored SB 620.

California State Senator Steve Bradford authored SB 620.

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Before SB 620 went into effect, the use of a firearm in the commission of a Felony would automatically trigger mandatory sentencing enhancements pursuant to Penal Code Section 12022.5/12022.53.

Depending on the circumstances, these enhancements could add at least several years or up to 25 years to life.

Now, however, the Court has the authority, under SB 620, to Strike or Dismiss these enhancements at the time of sentencing. This means that if it can be shown that it is in the "interest of justice" that the enhancements be stricken, the court can do so and sentence the Defendant as they would otherwise—without the additional state prison time.

Senate BIll 620 was written by California State Senator Steve Bradford. Senator Bradford spoke about a case where a 17-year old was given a 30-year to life sentence when it was not clear if he or another person had fired a gun. While the young man denied firing the gun he was still convicted. Hehad no criminal history and his teachers, clergy and family testified to his character as a hard-working student who no history of causing trouble. The judge who sentenced him stated on the record that his hands were tied in imposing the sentence.

WHO IS AFFECTED BY SB 620 AND HOW THEY CAN SEEK RESENTENCING:

Under a rule established in a case called In re Estrada, new laws like SB 620 should apply to anyone whose criminal case is not yet final when the law takes effect.

A criminal case is not final if a direct appeal is still pending in the court of appeal, a petition for review can still be filed or is pending in the California Supreme Court, or the 90-day timeline for filing a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court has not expired.

If you have one or more of the enhancements affected by SB 620 or SB 1393 and your case was not final when the new law took effect, you may be eligible to have your enhancement(s) stricken.

The procedure for raising the issue will depend on what stage your case is at currently. You should contact our attorneys about whether and how this issue can be raised in your case.

These new laws on enhancements do not apply retroactively to anyone whose criminal case is already final. Your case is final when the time for you to file a direct appeal has passed, or when your appeal and any petition for review by the California Supreme Court were denied and your time to file a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court (90 days after denial of a petition for review) has expired.

There Are still options even if your case is final

There are a few other ways in which some people might be able to get resentenced under the new enhancement laws:

  • If you have been sentenced recently (and even if you did not appeal), the court that sentenced you has the authority to recall your sentence and resentence you (Penal Code §1170(d)(1).)

  • Even if the judgment in your case is final, at any time during your sentence the CDCR (or for people in jail, the county correctional administrator) may make a recommendation to the sentencing court to recall your sentence and resentence you to a lower term. (Penal Code §1170(d)(1).)

Our attorneys are experienced with 1170(d)(1) petitions and have helped dozens apply for resentencting under the new laws.

Judson Parker