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SB-446 Factual innocence. (2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/16/2021 09:00 PM
SB446:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 446


Introduced by Senators Glazer and Becker

February 16, 2021


An act to amend Sections 851.86, 1485.55, 4903, and 4904 of the Penal Code, relating to criminal procedure.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 446, as introduced, Glazer. Factual innocence.
(1) Existing law authorizes a person who has been convicted and incarcerated for a felony and later pardoned on the basis of innocence or found to be factually innocent of that crime, as specified, to present a claim against the state to the California Victim Compensation Board for the pecuniary injury sustained by the person through the erroneous conviction and incarceration. Existing law requires the board to recommend to the Legislature that an appropriation be made and the claim paid if a court has made a finding that the person is factually innocent or if the person proves to the board that they are factually innocent. Under existing law, the person is considered factually innocent if the crime with which they were charged was either not committed at all, or if committed, was not committed by that person.
This bill would instead establish factual innocence for these purposes if the claimant establishes by a preponderance of the evidence, either before the court or the board, that a reasonable jury would not find the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on evidence currently available before the court or board. In reaching the board’s determination of the merits of the claim, the bill would allow the board to deem the claimant’s denial of the commission of the crime, reversal of judgment of conviction, the claimant’s acquittal on retrial, or the decision of the prosecuting authority not to retry the claimant for the crime as sufficient to warrant the board’s recommendation that the claimant be indemnified, and would specify that the claimant is not required to provide substantial independent corroborating evidence that the claimant is innocent in addition to those facts. The bill would prohibit the Attorney General from relying solely on the trial record of a conviction that has been reversed or dismissed to establish that the claimant is not entitled to compensation, and would require any new evidence presented by either party at the hearing to comply with the rules of evidence.
(2) Existing law requires the court to order records sealed if a person is found to be factually innocent, including records of arrest and detention, upon written or oral motion of any party.
The bill would require the court, in ordering records sealed pursuant to this provision, to indicate on the record that the person was found factually innocent of the charge.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 851.86 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

851.86.
 Whenever a person is convicted of a charge, and the conviction is set aside based upon a determination that the person was factually innocent of the charge, the judge shall indicate on the record that the person was found factually innocent of the charge and order that the records in the case be sealed, including any record of arrest or detention, upon written or oral motion of any party in the case or the court, and with notice to all parties to the case. If such an order is made, the court shall give the defendant a copy of that order and inform the defendant that he or she they may thereafter state he or she was they were not arrested for that charge and that he or she was they were not convicted of that charge, and that he or she was they were found innocent of that charge by the court. The court shall also inform the defendant of the availability of indemnity for persons erroneously convicted pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 4900) of Title 6 of Part 3, and the time limitations for presenting those claims.

SEC. 2.

 Section 1485.55 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

1485.55.
 (a) In a contested or uncontested proceeding, if the court has granted a writ of habeas corpus or when, pursuant to Section 1473.6, the court vacates a judgment, and if the court has found that the person is factually innocent, that finding shall be binding on the California Victim Compensation Board for a claim presented to the board, and upon application by the person, the board shall, without a hearing, recommend to the Legislature that an appropriation be made and the claim paid pursuant to Section 4904.
(b) In a contested or uncontested proceeding, if the court has granted a writ of habeas corpus or vacated a judgment pursuant to Section 1473.6 or paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 1473.7, the person may move for a finding of factual innocence by a preponderance of the evidence that the crime with which they were charged was either not committed at all or, if committed, was not committed by the petitioner. no reasonable jury would find the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt had they heard the evidence now before the court.
(c) If the court makes a finding that the petitioner has proven their factual innocence by a preponderance of the evidence pursuant to subdivision (b), the board shall, without a hearing, recommend to the Legislature that an appropriation be made and any claim filed shall be paid pursuant to Section 4904.
(d) A presumption does not exist in any other proceeding for failure to make a motion or obtain a favorable ruling pursuant to subdivision (b).
(e) If a federal court, after granting a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to a nonstatutory motion or request, finds a petitioner factually innocent by no less than a preponderance of the evidence that the crime with which they were charged was either not committed at all or, if committed, was not committed by the petitioner, the board shall, without a hearing, recommend to the Legislature that an appropriation be made and any claim filed shall be paid pursuant to Section 4904.

SEC. 3.

 Section 4903 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

4903.
 (a) Except as provided in Sections 851.865 and 1485.55, the board shall fix a time and place for the hearing of the claim. At the hearing the claimant shall introduce evidence in support of the claim, and the Attorney General may introduce evidence in opposition thereto. The claimant shall prove the facts set forth in the statement constituting the claim, including the fact that the crime with which they were charged was either not committed at all, or, if committed, was not committed by the claimant, and the injury sustained by them through their erroneous conviction and incarceration. claim. The board shall order compensation if it finds that the claimant has established by a preponderance of the evidence that no reasonable jury would find the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt had they heard the evidence now before the board.
(b) In reaching its determination of the merits of the claim, the claimant’s denial of the commission of the crime, reversal of judgment of conviction, claimant’s acquittal on retrial, or the decision of the prosecuting authority not to retry the claimant for the crime, may be considered by the board and may be deemed sufficient to warrant the board’s recommendation that the claimant be indemnified. The claimant is not required to provide substantial independent corroborating evidence that the claimant is innocent of the crime charged in addition to the claimant’s denial of the commission of the crime, reversal of judgment of conviction, claimant’s acquittal on retrial, or the decision of the prosecuting authority not to retry the claimant for the crime.

(b)

(c) In a hearing before the board, the factual findings and credibility determinations establishing the court’s basis for granting a writ of habeas corpus, a motion for new trial pursuant to Section 1473.6, or an application for a certificate of factual innocence as described in Section 1485.5 shall be binding on the Attorney General, the factfinder, and the board.
(d) A conviction that has been reversed and dismissed is no longer a valid conviction and the Attorney General may not rely solely on the trial record to establish that the claimant is not entitled to compensation. If either party seeks to offer new evidence supporting or disputing the claimant’s innocence, this evidence shall comply with the rules of evidence. Witnesses shall be produced so that their credibility may be tested and their testimony weighed against conflicting evidence if their testimony appears readily available and there is no substantial reason why their testimony may not be produced.

(c)

(e) The board shall deny payment of any claim if the board finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a claimant pled guilty with the specific intent to protect another from prosecution for the underlying conviction for which the claimant is seeking compensation.

SEC. 4.

 Section 4904 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

4904.
 If the evidence shows that the crime with which the claimant was charged was either not committed at all, or, if committed, was not committed by the claimant, that no reasonable jury would find the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt had they heard the evidence, and that the claimant has sustained injury through his or her their erroneous conviction and imprisonment, the California Victim Compensation Board shall report the facts of the case and its conclusions to the next Legislature, with a recommendation that the Legislature make an appropriation for the purpose of indemnifying the claimant for the injury. The amount of the appropriation recommended shall be a sum equivalent to one hundred forty dollars ($140) per day of incarceration served, and shall include any time spent in custody, including in a county jail, that is considered to be part of the term of incarceration. That appropriation shall not be treated as gross income to the recipient under the Revenue and Taxation Code.