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Articles Posted in SB 1437

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.

Senate Bill 1437, passed back in 2019, significantly changed how California homicide offenses were charged. More specifically, SB 1437 prohibited prosecutions for first- or second-degree murder for someone who was “not the actual killer, did not act with the intent to kill, or was not a major participant in the underlying felony who acted with reckless indifference to human life.”

As a result of SB 1437’s passage, many defendants who were convicted of murder crimes were eligible to have their convictions reviewed by the court to determine if they were eligible for relief. However, there is a major gap in SB 1437, because it does not apply to those found guilty of California manslaughter offenses.

While, initially, it may seem like this makes sense, as those convicted of murder are likely serving much longer sentences, a recent article highlights the current inequities of SB 1437. The article describes the case of a man who was alleged to have been involved in a robbery of a brothel. Evidently, the defendant waited outside as his friend ran inside the brothel alone, shooting and killing one of the occupants.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a California homicide case involving the defendant’s claim that he was entitled to relief under SB 1437. However, the court held that, under California Supreme Court case law, a petition for relief under SB 1437 is not cognizable on appeal, and must first be filed with the trial court. The opinion illustrates the complexity of the procedural rules that govern post-conviction matters generally, but also especially those seeking relief under SB 1437.

Passed in 2017, SB 1437 is a criminal justice reform law that precludes the prosecution from pursuing first- or second-degree murder charges in certain situations. It also provides a mechanism for defendants to petition the court for a re-sentencing hearing, if they were convicted of an offense that they could no longer be convicted of. A re-sentencing under SB 1437 is available if the defendant meets each of the following elements:

  1. The charging document allowed the prosecution to pursue a conviction under a theory of first-degree felony murder or through the “natural and probable consequences” doctrine;
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Last month, the California Supreme Court released its opinion in a case involving the defendant’s claim that he was entitled to a resentencing hearing under Senate Bill 1437 (SB 1437). The case illustrates the power of SB 1437, and what it means for those serving lengthy prison terms for California murder convictions.

The Facts

Back in 2014, the defendant was arrested for murder. The prosecution and defense offered very different versions of the events leading up to the victim’s death. According to the defense, a woman told the defendant that the victim had been raping her. At this point, the defendant punched the victim in the face, and the woman began attacking the victim with what the defendant thought was a sledgehammer. The defendant denies ever using a weapon to strike the victim, who later died. The defendant’s DNA was found on cigarette butts at the scene.

The defendant was arrested for first-degree murder, based largely on the woman’s testimony. He was convicted, but that conviction was later reduced to a second-degree murder conviction based on his initial appeal. However, after the passage of SB 1437, the defendant filed a post-conviction motion, asking the court to vacate his sentence for second-degree murder.

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On December 7, 2020, George Gascon was sworn in as the new District Attorney, defeating the previous District Attorney, Jackie Lacey. With his swearing in comes sweeping reforms and promises to re-open thousands of old cases. In his sweeping reforms, Mr. Gascon provides for retroactive applications, removing gun enhancements, gang enhancements, Three Strikes Law and materially changing juvenile laws.

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Traditionally, reforms are non-retroactive, meaning they do not apply to prior judgments or convictions. However, in Mr. Gascon’s sweeping reform, his office is now applying these reforms retroactively. That means that many of the new changes will affect old convictions from the past, regardless of when they took place.

In this post, Attorney Matthew Barhoma, founder of Barhoma Law, P.C. and California Criminal Appeals Attorney highlights the new changes and outlines how they will affect general cases. To learn how District Attorney, George Gascon’s, sweeping reform may affect your case, please consult with a Criminal Appeals and Post Conviction attorney with Barhoma Law, P.C. by calling our firm at 213-800-7664.

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.

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