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SB 1437 Successful Case, 2019
SB 1437 Successful Case, 2019
Federal Writ of
Habeas Corpus
Gained Key Ruling
$2.5M Breach of
Contract Claim
Successfully Defended Against
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LACBA
AVVO
American Association Attorney Advocate
American Association Attorney Advocate
State Bar of California
The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 under 40
The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 trial lawyers
Super Lawyers Rising Stars

While California is on the cutting-edge of criminal justice reform, in large part, this is due to the extremely harsh sentencing laws enacted in decades past. Most notably, California’s three strikes law, codified in Penal Code § 667, provides for increasingly harsh sentences for those who have been convicted of certain felony crimes. In some cases, the California three strikes law can result in an additional 25-year to life sentence on top of the sentence for the most recent conviction.

The History of the California Three Strikes Law

Back in 1994, during the height of the war on drugs and while many California cities were plagued by the highest rate of violent crime in history, Governor Wilson signed AB 971 into law. AB 971 was known as the “Three Strike and You’re Out” law or, more commonly, as the “Three Strikes Law.”

The effects of a felony conviction are severe and remain with you for life. However, by obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation, inmates can regain many of the liberties they’ve been deprived of due to their conviction. While certificates of rehabilitation are not new, by any means, they are underutilized, in large part, because they are misunderstood. Read on to learn more about certificates of rehabilitation and how to obtain one.

What Is a Certificates of Rehabilitation?

A certificate of rehabilitation is a court determination that a former inmate has been fully rehabilitated. In this way, a certificate of rehabilitation does not help currently incarcerated inmates; however, it can help formerly incarcerated inmates on their journey to rebuild their lives and become contributing members of society.

Barhoma Law, P.C., a California Criminal Appeals law firm, has been following Senate Bill 775 closely. Senate Bill 775 passed the senate and the assembly this month, on September 10, 2021. It has been passed off to Governor Newsom for final signature. If signed, this bill will help reduce the sentence of those convicted of attempted murder and manslaughter, if they meet the SB 775 criteria.

Most notably, SB 775 is retroactive, meaning, you can apply this new law to your case, despite your case being final. Previously, SB 1437 changed the felony murder rule. Under SB 1437, those convicted under the natural and probable consequences doctrine were able to petition the court to re-examine their case. More specifically, per SB 1437, if an accused did not: (1) act with reckless indifference to human life, or (2) was not a major participant to homicide, they were able to petition for re-sentencing. Attorney Matthew Barhoma, founder of Barhoma Law, P.C. was successful multiple times under this law, giving back his clients a second chance at life.

However, SB 1437 only applied to those convicted of homicide. As such, it did not apply to those convicted of lesser offenses, such as attempted murder or manslaughter. Even worse, the SB 1437 criteria left out those who were facing homicide charges, but decided to comply with the District Attorney’s office during their prosecution by accepting a plea deal for a lesser offense.

Over the past decade, California lawmakers have taken significant steps to improve the state’s broken criminal justice system. Lawmakers began to realize that decades of a “War on Drugs,” coupled with the state’s tough-on-crime stance, resulted in over-incarceration, mostly of Young Men of Color. However, given the recent sea change in the state’s sentencing enhancement laws, thousands of current inmates stand to have their sentences reduced. Below is a description of some of the most notable new sentencing enhancement laws over the past few years.

Senate Bill 180

Effective: January 1, 2018.

Mollie Tibbets’ alleged killer has been convicted of her murder by a jury. While the jury found him guilty, he took the stand in his own case, attesting there were others involved and he was under duress. At first, the testimony seemed strange. And ultimately, the jury did not buy it, when they convicted him of her murder.

During the sentencing phase, Mollie Tibberts’ alleged killer brings a Motion for a New Trialwhich is a motion to bring about a new trial based on “new and additional evidence.”

In this video, California Criminal Appeals attorney, Matthew Barhoma, founder of Barhoma Law, P.C. breaks down analysis regarding the new evidence and outlines all the ways you can use this evidence. This analysis covers even how to use “new and additional evidence” in a Writ of Habeas Corpus setting and in other post-conviction and appellate procedures.

If you were under the age of 26 at the date of the offense giving rise to a criminal conviction, you may be eligible for a Franklin Hearing that would allow you to introduce mitigating factors of youthfulness, which can in turn lead to lighter sentencing and increased Parole Board hearings. In this article, California Criminal Appeals attorneys of Barhoma Law, P.C. explains:

  1. What is a Franklin Petition is and What it Does;
  2. Who is Eligible for a Franklin Petition;

The writ of habeas corpus, or the “Great Writ” as it is also known, is a powerful tool. The writ of habeas corpus calls for the review of an individual’s incarceration, requiring the government to justify why it is holding someone in custody. When properly used, a writ of habeas corpus can compel the release of an inmate. However, as powerful as the Great Writ is, it is also commonly misunderstood. These misunderstandings can often result in inmates improperly filing for habeas relief, possibly risking proper review in the future. In the post, leading California criminal appeals lawyer explains: (1) what a Writ of Habeas Corpus is; (2) the differences between state and federal writs of Habeas Corpus, and (3) the requirements of Exhausting your state legal remedies.

What Is a Writ of Habeas Corpus?

Simply put, a writ of habeas corpus calls into question the continued incarceration of an individual. Thus, aside from direct appeal relief, a petition for writ of habeas corpus is another important way for inmates to challenge their conviction or sentence. However, unlike an appeal, a writ of habeas corpus does not give a petitioner the chance to relitigate their case. Writs of habeas corpus are limited to situations in which someone is incarcerated due to an incorrect application of law or newly present circumstances justifying their release.

Governor Gavin Newsom recommends for Commutation the Application of a Barhoma Law, P.C. Client who spent nearly three decades behind bars.

Barhoma Law, P.C. receives the Commutation Recommendation from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office. The Barhoma Law, P.C. client may soon be walking free. Historically, Governors will wait and issue a number of Commutations and other Pardons at the end of their term. However, Governor Newsom has elected to issue commutations more periodically. And in making these issuance, he has recieved and reviewed the Commutation Application of a deserving Barhoma Law Client and has recommended his sentence to be commuted.

Traditionally, the Governor’s office has free reign and control to commute sentences in any way they deem fit. One thing the Governor’s office can do is recommend a sentence for commutation by sending the case, alongside the commutation recommendation, to the office of the Parole Board, who will put together a review and hold a hearing. Once that’s completed successfully, it will be sent back to the Governor’s office for final commutation. This particular Barhoma Law client may soon be walking free after nearly 30 years of incarceration.

The concept that children behave differently than adults is nothing new. Children lack the impulse control and foresight that adults do, resulting in them having less appreciation for their actions. However, until relatively recently, the criminal law did not consider a person’s age or its effect on their actions and ability to be rehabilitated. A Franklin hearing is a procedural mechanism that allows a person convicted of a serious crime to present evidence of their youthfulness, not to excuse their actions but to put them into context.

Franklin hearings arose out of a 2016 case involving a 16-year-old boy who shot and killed another teenager. At trial, Tyris Lamar Franklin was sentenced to a total term of 50 years to life. On appeal, Franklin argued that his sentence was the functional equivalent of life without the possibility of parole. Previously, the California Supreme Court determined that juveniles found guilty of non-homicide offenses could not be sentenced to the functional equivalent of life without the possibility of parole. Franklin argued that his 50-plus year sentence qualified as such, and sought relief.

The court denied Franklin the relief he was seeking, noting that subsequent changes to California law allowed Franklin a parole hearing after 25 years. However, under existing state law, at Franklin’s eventual parole hearing, the parole board must “give great weight to the diminished culpability of juveniles as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity.” Because Franklin was sentenced before these changes went into effect, he did not have an opportunity to put this evidence on the record.

For decades, California had the largest prison system of all U.S. states. However, in more recent years, sociological and scientific research indicated that the effects of mass incarceration can do much more harm than good. For example, a 2019 study conducted by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office notes that the average annual cost to incarcerate one person exceeds $80,000. Of course, ending mass incarceration not only provides economic and societal benefits but is also the right thing to do from a human rights perspective.

California lawmakers have been on the forefront of criminal justice reform. Most recently, California Governor, Gavin Newsome, announced a policy by which 76,000 inmates will become eligible for early release. The measure is designed to incentivize good conduct while incarcerated, allowing inmates to more easily use early release credits to get out of jail. More specifically, under the new rule, an inmate can use good behavior credits to shorten their sentence by up to one-third. Previously, there most a sentence could be reduced was one-fifth.

Unlike many other criminal justice reform measures, this new rule applies broadly to inmates convicted of all types of offenses, including those convicted of violent crimes. According to a recent report by the Associated Press, 63,000 of the inmates who will become eligible for earlier release are serving time for a violent offense. The new rule will also allow approximately 20,000 inmates currently serving a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole to qualify for early release. In part, the reason why this figure is so high is that other criminal justice reform measures have overlooked this population.

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