California Criminal Appeals Attorney Wins Multiple SB 1437 Cases Within Six Month Span
Attorney Matthew Barhoma, founder of Barhoma Law, P.C., was successful at attaining multiple SB 1437 successes within a six-month span in 2019. Through our renowned criminal appeals process, attorney Matthew Barhoma was able to achieve these successes, all of which are outlined below.
SB 1437 is a January 2019 law that has ended the practice of assigning homicide convictions to defendants who never committed a homicide nor “acted with reckless indifference to human life”. Traditionally, under the Felony Murder Rule, if you were a co-defendant in a felony, and a homicide occurred throughout the commission of that felony, you were convicted with a homicide conviction under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. And this occurred regardless of whether you indeed acted with reckless indifference or even participated in the homicide. As such, under the old law, even if you were never physically present, nor authorized the commission of the homicide, you were still sentenced to a homicide sentence. Now, the law is different and more targeted to only those who intended to kill and/or acted with reckless indifference to human life in carrying out the homicide.
In 2019, attorney Matthew Barhoma was able to receive the following two SB1437 successes:
- September 2019 – In May 2019, attorney Matthew Barhoma and his firm filed an SB 1437 petition for a client convicted of homicide and robbery. At the time of filing, the client was serving a 25-year-to-life sentence. In bringing evidence that Mr. Barhoma’s client never acted with reckless indifference to human life, the court agreed. After ample argument from the Downtown Los Angele District Attorney’s office, Mr. Barhoma rebutted with strong evidence contending that his client was but a mere bystander to human life. After reviewing the records and the arguments, the Los Angeles Court, located at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, ruled in Mr. Barhoma’s favor. The Court vacated Mr. Barhoma’s client’s homicide conviction. The Court resentenced Mr. Barhoma’s client in September of 2019.
- November 2019 – In June 2019, attorney Matthew Barhoma and his firm filed an SB 1437 petition for a client convicted of assault, battery, and homicide. Prior to retaining Mr. Barhoma and his firm, this defendant was serving a life term. In bringing this petition, Mr. Barhoma was successful at bringing evidence to the court that the client was never even at the scene of the alleged crime. After multiple hearings and ample arguments from both side, the Court ruled with prejudice that Mr. Barhoma’s client may have been wrongfully convicted. The Long Beach Superior Court, known as Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, resentenced Mr. Barhoma’s client on or about November 2019. Mr. Barhoma’s client is now walking free.
However, undoing a homicide conviction pursuant to SB 1437 is not an easy task. First, you have to meet Penal Code § 1170.95, which details the new SB 1437 law. You have to bring the right kind of SB 1437 petition, beyond merely filling in the form. Then you have to succeed at the Prima Facie hearing, which is the first step of the SB 1437 procedure. During the prima facie hearing, you need to demonstrate that your petition meets the SB 1437 (or PC 1170.95) criteria “on it’s face.” Assuming the court is satisfied, the court will then set it for an Order to Show Cause (“OSC”), which is the second step of the SB 1437 procedure. The OSC is an evidentiary hearing where the burden shifts to the District Attorney. The prosecutor then has to prove that there is enough evidence to show that the defendant acted with reckless indifference to human life. But the beauty of this second step is that the defense is allowed to introduce new and additional evidence. For the right defendants, they may even waive their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and take the stand. Assuming you’re successful at the OSC, the court then sets a re-sentencing hearing, which is the third step of the SB 1437 procedure. During the re-sentencing hearing, the court will listen to victim impact statements, as such the victim’s family will have their day in court. And if the court is finally satisfied, the court then re-sentences the defendant and vacates the homicide conviction. It is recommended that you seek the guidance of an experienced attorney, as SB 1437 is a complicated and rigorous procedure.
Contact Us to Determine Your SB 1437 Petition
SB 1437 is a narrow law that requires good litigation from a renowned post-conviction attorney. If you or a loved one think you qualify, contact Barhoma Law, P.C. for a free consultation at 213-800-7664.