Today's Law As Amended

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SB-481 Sentencing: special circumstances.(2021-2022)

As Amends the Law Today


 Section 1385.1 of the Penal Code is repealed.

 Notwithstanding Section 1385 or any other provision of law, a judge shall not strike or dismiss any special circumstance which is admitted by a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or is found by a jury or court as provided in Sections 190.1 to 190.5, inclusive.

SEC. 2.

 Section 1385.1 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

 (a) Notwithstanding any other law, at any time the court, either on the court’s own motion, upon the motion of either party, or upon an application of a person who has been incarcerated 15 years or longer, and in furtherance of justice, shall hold a hearing and may strike or dismiss any special circumstance found true pursuant to Section 190.2, whether by jury, a court, admission by a guilty plea, or by plea of nolo contendere, as provided in Sections 190.1 to 190.5, inclusive, in all cases in which the sentence is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and in which the person was 25 years of age or younger at the time of the offense that was the basis of the special circumstance finding or admission. A subsequent application for a hearing from a person who has been incarcerated 15 years or longer may only be made if at least five years have passed from the filing of the prior application.
(b) If the trial court judgment has become final and the sentence has been executed or the imposition of sentence has been suspended, this section shall apply retroactively to enable the judge to dismiss a special circumstance finding or admission pursuant to subdivision (a).
(c) In all cases, in exercising its discretion whether to strike or dismiss a special circumstance finding or admission, the court shall consider all relevant circumstances, regardless of whether those circumstances were presented at any time during the previous proceedings, and the court shall place great weight on the hallmark features of youth and the following factors, which shall mitigate in favor of striking or dismissing any special circumstance:
(1) The person has demonstrated growth and maturity since the offense, including, but not limited to, acts that tend to indicate rehabilitation or the potential for rehabilitation, including, but not limited to, availing themselves of rehabilitative, educational, or vocational programs, if those programs have been available at their classification level and facility, using self-study for self-improvement, maintaining prosocial relationships, or showing evidence of remorse.
(2) Prior to the offense, the person experienced abuse, trauma, or significant stress.
(3) The person was a victim of intimate partner violence, commercial sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, or human trafficking.
(4) The person has cognitive limitations due to mental illness, developmental disabilities, or other factors that did not constitute a defense to the offense, but influenced the person’s involvement in the offense.
(d) This section does not change the public safety consideration required for release on parole for an indeterminately sentenced person. In any case where striking or dismissal of a special circumstance finding or admission results in a sentence that does not require a determination that the person does not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety by the Board of Parole Hearings prior to release, the court shall not strike or dismiss the special circumstance if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person would pose an immediate threat to public safety.
(e) Survivors of crime and surviving family members of a deceased victim shall be notified of the dismissal and shall retain their rights under Section 28 of Article I of the California Constitution (Marsy’s Law), including the right to notification of, and an opportunity to speak at, a resentencing hearing. Upon dismissal of a special circumstance, the court shall offer the survivor or survivors and surviving family members information about existing services to address their needs as related to the crime and case process. This information shall include, but is not limited to, information about all of the following:
(1) Counseling or treatment opportunities.
(2) Contact information for peer support groups and community-based organizations that support survivors and family members, including accompaniment or support at a parole hearing.
(3) Options for receiving letters of remorse from the defendant or applicant, if available.
(4) Information about what to expect of the parole hearing process and the survivor or family member role.
(5) Information about the right to choose lawful representative, including from a nongovernmental organization, at court proceedings and at hearings by the Board of Parole Hearings.
(f) The reasons for the dismissal or denial of dismissal or striking of a special circumstance finding or admission pursuant to this section shall be stated orally on the record. The court shall also set forth the reasons in an order entered upon the minutes if requested by either party or when the proceedings are not being recorded electronically or reported by a court reporter.
(g) Any order denying dismissal or striking of a special circumstance finding or admission pursuant to this section shall be appealable.
(h) For the purposes of this section, the hallmark features of youth include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
(1) Lack of maturity.
(2) Underdeveloped sense of responsibility.
(3) Limited ability to appreciate risks and consequences of behavior.
(4) Impulsivity.
(5) Increased vulnerability or susceptibility to negative influences and outside pressures, particularly from family members or peers.
SEC. 3.
  The provisions of this measure are severable. If any provision of this measure or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.