California proposition 47 will have an effect on sentencing for current offenses with prior convictions related to theft crimes. Proposition 47 amended existing law regarding different theft and drug crimes. Proposition 47 was in response to several problems with the justice system in California including overcrowding of prisons and jails of persons serving time for non-violent theft and drug crimes. Although no one wants to be convicted of a felony or misdemeanor or serve time in custody, knowing how the new laws affect your rights is important in order to better understand how to defend a criminal prosecution for a theft crime whether it be petty theft or grand theft.
1. Commercial Burglary
Burglary of a store or commercial establishment or a location where people do not reside is referred to as a commercial burglary under California law. Prior to the passage of Proposition 47 in California, a commercial burglary could be charged as a felony or misdemeanor under California Penal Code section 459. With the passage of the new law, there is a new shoplifting statute under California Penal Code section 459. 5 making it a misdemeanor for persons who commit a larceny of property valued at $950 or less. Such misdemeanor can only be charged if the larceny took place during during “regular business hours” at the commercial establishment. Sometimes a person charged with a commercial burglary may still be subject to a felony charge but an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to utilize the new shoplifting statute under Penal Code section 459.5 to obtain a reduction of a felony charge depending on the facts of the case and often times the prior record of the defendant.
2. Grand Theft
Prior to the passage of prop 47, California Penal Code section 487 made it a felony to take the property of another that had a value of $400.00 or more. With the passage of the new law, there is now Penal Code section 490.2 which provides in pertinent part that “ Notwithstanding