How Prop 57 & Prop 64 Changed California Criminal Law

Although California voters have many reasons to be concerned following the results of the November 8th general election, some of the greatest changes which have caused a stir revolve around the passing of Propositions 57 and 64. Having passed with overwhelming support, these two new pieces of legislation have introduced a major revamping of the state’s criminal justice system and implemented lighter sentences for a variety of once-serious crimes. Our firm has put together a brief guide to help you understand exactly how these laws will change criminal law in California.

Marijuana is Now Legal

Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), has expanded the state’s already-existing medical marijuana legislation by making cannabis legal for possession, use, and cultivation by adults age 21 and older. While Californians will not be able to purchase marijuana until state-regulated dispensaries are up and running, adults 21 and older man now legally possess and transport up to 28.5 grams of cannabis for recreational use, as well as cultivate up to six marijuana plants within their homes.

Possibly a greater effect of AUMA is that has also allowed individuals convicted of various marijuana crimes to either reduce their convictions to misdemeanors or infractions, or in some cases, completely remove them from their records through expungement. This can be a major boost for individuals who have experienced hardship reentering the workforce due to scrutiny over past pot-related offenses.

Offenses eligible for reduction or expungement include:

Certain Nonviolent Felons Are Eligible for Early Parole

Governor Jerry Brown’s initiative to alleviate the state’s overcrowded prison problem, Proposition 57, allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons and sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior and education. Additionally, the law has essentially reclassified certain crimes which were ordinarily considered violent as nonviolent, allowing an estimated 25,000 inmates to petition for early release.

Although individuals convicted of the 23 types of violent crimes as defined in Penal Code 667.5(c) are excluded from parole under the new law, Proposition 57 does not define which “nonviolent” felons are eligible. Therefore, individuals convicted of nearly any crime not specifically designated as violent by statute may be granted eligibility for early release under this new measure.

Some of the crimes reclassified as nonviolent include:

  • Rape by intoxication
  • Human trafficking involving sex act with minors
  • Drive-by shooting
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Taking a hostage
  • Domestic violence involving trauma
  • Arson causing great bodily injury
  • Corporal injury to a child

Riverside County Criminal Defense Firm

If you have been convicted of a previous marijuana offense or a nonviolent crime, get in touch with the powerful Riverside County criminal defense Attorney at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today. Having successfully defended hundreds of case dismissals, reduced sentences, and favorable results for clients accused of a variety of crimes, our team of aggressive advocates can provide the strong advocacy you need to ensure your rights are defended.

Call (951) 687-6003 or fill out an online form to discover your legal options.


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