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AB-1224 Sentencing: special circumstances.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/19/2021 09:00 PM
AB1224:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1224


Introduced by Assembly Member Levine

February 19, 2021


An act to repeal and add Section 1385.1 of the Penal Code, relating to crimes.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1224, as introduced, Levine. Sentencing: special circumstances.
Existing law provides for various specified special circumstances, including the murder of a peace officer, firefighter, or witness, which, if found true as specified, require a defendant found guilty of murder in the first degree to be sentenced to death or imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. Existing law, added by Proposition 115 of the June 5, 1990, statewide primary election, prohibits a judge from striking or dismissing any special circumstance admitted by plea or found true by a jury or court, as specified. Existing law provides for amendment of these provisions by a 2/3 vote of each house of the Legislature.
This bill would amend Proposition 115 by repealing the provision prohibiting a judge from striking a special circumstance and by, instead, authorizing a judge, on the judge’s own motion or upon the application of either party, and in the furtherance of justice, to order the dismissal of a special circumstance finding or admission. The bill would authorize a judge to order the dismissal of a special circumstance finding or admission retroactively when the trial court judgment has become final and the sentence has been executed, or the imposition of the sentence has been suspended, including when the sentence previously pronounced was life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or the death penalty, as specified.
This bill would state that its provisions are severable.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 1385.1 of the Penal Code is repealed.
1385.1.

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:

1385.1.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other law, the judge, either on the judge’s own motion or upon the application of either party, and in furtherance of justice, may order the dismissal of a special circumstance finding or admission made pursuant to Section 190.2.
(b) A dismissal of a special circumstance finding or admission previously made pursuant to Section 190.2 may be made at any time, including after having been admitted by a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or having been found true by a jury or court, as provided in Sections 190.1 to 190.5, inclusive.
(c) 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 order the dismissal of a special circumstance finding or admission pursuant to subdivision (a), including all cases in which the sentence previously pronounced was life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
(1) In exercising its discretion whether to dismiss a special circumstance finding after judgment has been pronounced, the court shall consider all relevant circumstances, regardless of whether those circumstances were previously presented at any time during the previous proceedings, and shall place great weight on the following factors:
(A) The defendant’s behavior and performance since the pronouncement of judgment, including defendant’s conduct while incarcerated.
(B) The defendant’s age at the time the offense was committed.
(C) The defendant’s present age.
(D) The present state of the defendant’s mental and physical health, including reasonable prognoses for the defendant’s future health and longevity.
(E) The growth and maturity of the defendant since the commitment offense. In evaluating this factor, the court may consider psychological evaluations and risk assessment instruments, if they are administered by licensed psychologists, as well as the opinions of family members, friends, school personnel, faith leaders, and representatives from community-based organizations with knowledge about the defendant before the crime or the defendant’s growth and maturity since the time of the crime.
(F) The diminished culpability of youthful offenders as compared to that of older adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the individual.
(G) Whether the defendant was a victim of intimate partner violence, commercial sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, or human trafficking, including the impact those experiences may have had on the defendant.
(H) Whether the defendant served in a branch of the United States military, including the circumstances of the defendant’s service and any impact that service may have had on the defendant.
(I) Whether, and to what extent, dismissal of the special circumstance will affect public safety.
(2) If the offense was committed 20 years or more before the date of the application or motion to dismiss the special circumstance finding, and the defendant has not committed or attempted an act of violence against any other individual since the pronouncement of judgment, it shall be presumed that the special circumstance finding will be dismissed, and the special circumstance shall be dismissed unless the prosecution demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant would commit a future violent offense.
(d) The reasons for the dismissal or denial of dismissal 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.

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.