California is not lenient on criminal activity. As such, those convicted of crimes often face strict or lengthy punishments that are not necessarily appropriate for their given situation. If you are in this scenario, a recent law may offer options to shorten or end your criminal sentence.
Assembly Bill 2942 (AB 2942) was codified by the state senate in 2019, solidifying its contents into California law and affecting inmates’ rights throughout the state. If you are currently incarcerated, this law may make it possible to obtain early release or a sentence reduction, especially if the appeals process is not right for your situation.What Is Assembly Bill 2942?
AB 2942 aims to adjust some of California’s harshest or strictest punishments. Historically, the state has handed out sentences or punishments that were unnecessarily lengthy or severe. The codified AB 2942 outlines a more expansive system to review a defendant’s punishment or sentence and potentially revise it for a more appropriate punishment. With a wider range of resources and a system in place, those who are facing unnecessarily extensive incarceration periods may be able to achieve a reduction in the time that they have to serve.Why Did the California Senate Pass AB 2942?
California has a high rate of incarceration, and many jails and prisons have become overcrowded. California is second only to Texas in the size of its prison population. As a way to mitigate this, as well as to ensure that sentences are fair and in the pursuit of justice, the state senate passed AB 2942.
Federal inmates may not be eligible for AB 2942, depending on their case and the jurisdiction that affects it. If you are a federal prisoner, you should explore re-sentencing if you believe you fit the criteria. Exploration of this option may lead to inmate freedom or a significant reduction of your sentence.The AB 2942 Sentence Review Process
District attorneys are charged with reviewing sentences to determine whether the incarceration length is appropriate in light of AB 2942. The objective is to ensure all sentences serve or reflect the interest of justice, which can be subjective. As such, it is helpful to have a personal defense attorney to negotiate your perspective with the DA reviewing your case.
If a DA recommends re-sentencing in your case, your case will go to court for a re-sentencing hearing at which a judge may institute a new sentence. Your new sentence may be shorter or may account for the time served. The judge is not allowed to impose a longer sentence than you already had, which would not be in line with the objectives of AB 2942.
To establish fairness and continuity among re-sentencing claims, the judicial council will review the results of the hearing.Help Seeking a Sentence Recall
The Board of Parole, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and the district attorney’s office are the institutions that have the right to seek a sentence recall. If you are an inmate or your loved one is an inmate seeking a sentence correction, you will work with the district attorney’s office.
Traditionally, defendants and district attorneys work against one another in claims, so many people find it strange or unfair that defendants have to work with these individuals to seek sentence reductions. However, doing so is actually an advantage to everyone involved.
District attorneys have an intimate knowledge and understanding of sentencing laws, as well as a passion for justice and fairness. DAs study sentencing and understand how ineffective a lengthy sentence can be in achieving rehabilitation. These professionals understand what rehabilitation looks like, as well as how to identify indications that an inmate is unlikely to commit violent or illegal acts in the future.
Though you may feel like the DA is against you, in reality, they work hard in your favor to make sure that sentences are fair. In light of AB 2942, DAs work diligently to make sure inmate sentences are not too long and that the punishment is in pursuit of justice, not as unproductive punitive actions. DAs recognize that rehabilitation happens in many ways, and incarceration is not necessarily the key to a crime-free future.Submitting a Petition for Re-Sentencing
The process to apply for a sentence reconsideration changes depending on your unique situation and factors affecting your incarceration. The process can also be confusing if you attempt to navigate it on your own, so be sure to seek attorney support to file your petition.
If you have served a considerable portion of your incarceration sentence, your attorney will gather all evidence needed to advocate for a sentence reconsideration. Our firm will file your petition on your behalf once we have determined that you are eligible for reconsideration and believe that we have accumulated enough evidence to support the claim.
However, if you fit certain criteria, you must file your petition with the court and prosecutor that initially sentenced you. These criteria include:
- You were a minor when you committed the offense.
- You served 15 years or more of your sentence.
- You were sentenced to life without parole.
In these circumstances, you should develop a statement detailing your circumstances, why you meet the above criteria, and an explanation of why you are eligible for re-sentencing under AB 2942.Attorney Representation
Though the legal system handles many factors in re-sentencing, it is still important to have your own legal representation. Your lawyer can provide the DA with key evidence and information to make your case for re-sentencing. This can significantly impact the outcome of the process and make your court appearance more straightforward.
The DA and your attorney will also make your case in court to the judge. Even if a DA believes that you deserve re-sentencing, a judge still has to hear the argument in your favor and make a final decision. Having your attorney there as a second advocate can be incredibly helpful to your overall argument.
Do not attempt to seek re-sentencing or file an appeal without a qualified appellate attorney. Be sure that your legal representation has the experience and training to properly represent inmates in situations like yours. You have limited opportunities to seek reconsideration of your situation, meaning that you must make a strong effort to win if you choose to do so.Considerations in a Recall Decision
Many people will be assessing your case during your reconsideration claim. It is important to understand which factors these individuals will assess so that you can be prepared for your case and present the most positive possible information.
Courts will consider:
- Your inmate behavior and disciplinary record
- Evidence that suggests a low likelihood of future violence
- Your rehabilitation record
They will also look at all current legislation, including the details of AB 2942, and how new laws may affect your sentence. Finally, they will decide whether your incarceration would be a “miscarriage of justice” if allowed to continue.AB 2942 vs. PC 1172
AB 2942 is similar to Penal Code 1172, and the two are related in many ways. However, there are ways in which they are distinct, and it is important to understand the difference as you seek re-sentencing.
PC 1172 focuses mainly on re-sentencing those who would not have been found guilty if the current laws had been in effect at the time of their trial. Though California law is constantly updating, the new laws are not always retroactive. This means those who were incarcerated for actions that are now legal or warrant lighter sentences have the opportunity to return to court to seek re-sentencing.
Though both laws handle the California re-sentencing process, AB 2942 addresses unfair or harsh punishments, while PC 1172 handles updating inmate punishments to reflect current laws. Both are extremely important to understand if you are considering an appeal or a sentence assessment of any kind.AB 2942 and Non-Citizens
If you are not a citizen of the United States but are incarcerated in the United States penal system, AB 2942 still applies to you. The law may be able to help if your conviction or punishment is threatening your immigration process or status.
Immigration law is complicated, especially when combined with other offenses and sentences. Be sure to speak with an attorney if you are a non-citizen and believe that AB 2942 may affect your sentence length or severity.Changing Your Behavior
If you would like to take advantage of AB 2942 but do not believe that your current incarceration record speaks to your eligibility, there are several things you can do. Your behavior in jail or prison will affect your case, so you may take steps to strengthen your case through good behavior.
Factors that may strengthen your argument for re-sentencing include:
- Taking educational classes
- Engaging in self-help classes or materials
- Avoiding fights or disagreements
- Fostering positive relationships with other inmates and staff
Good behavior can significantly improve the likelihood that the court will approve your petition.
Get in Touch With Us at Barhoma Law
If you are ready to petition the court under AB 2942, contact Barhoma Law today.