2023 is a great year of positive steps towards prison reform and anti-recidivism in criminal law and we have put together a definitive list of new 2023 California criminal laws you should know about! Many criminal laws have been newly effectuated or slated to take effect that show hope and promise toward a better criminal justice system that humanizes those who are incarcerated or facing incarceration. Below is a complete list of these new 2023 California criminal laws and brief descriptions of what they are about.
SB-731: Criminal Record Relief:
SB 731 is a new bill set to take effect in July 2023 that aims to help Californians who have criminal records. Once enacted, SB-731 will automatically seal most criminal records for those who have completed their sentences, with some exceptions.
Under current law, people convicted of certain offenses cannot petition for relief until 10 years after conviction or release from custody, whichever is later. However, SB-731 lowers the 10-year requirement to 5 years. The bill will also apply retroactively to anyone convicted of a crime who has been released from custody for at least 10 years and completed their sentence.
The goal of SB-731 is to enable California’s process for sealing criminal records to be more straightforward and less expensive in order for those who benefit from it to have a positive re-entry into the community and greater success against recidivism.
AB-2799 is known as the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act which precludes lyrics, poems, or other artistic expressions to be used as evidence in criminal and civil proceedings with some exceptions.
The main intent of AB-2799 is to decriminalize artistic expression, which is defined as any form of expression that is protected by the First Amendment and allows artists to be creative without fear of prosecution.
AB-2147: Decriminalization of Jaywalking
Many Californians may not know, but prior to the passage of AB-2147, jaywalking was illegal and chargeable as a criminal offense. With the passage of the new bill, Jaywalking will no longer be charged as a criminal offense and will be considered a civil offense resulting in the issuing of a ticket as opposed to an arrest or citation.
So, as of January 1, 2023, it is no longer illegal for Californians to Jaywalk “as long as it is safe to do so.”
SB 1209: Veteran Resentencing:
Beginning January 1, 2023, a new law –SB 1209-will allow people who have served in the military to request resentencing for less time. This new law applies not only to those who have served, but those currently serving as well provided they have trauma or a condition related to their military service.
SB 1106: Unpaid Restitution No Longer Barrier to Post-Conviction Relief or Out-of-State Parole
Under SB 1106, a new law enacted earlier this year, unpaid restitution can no longer be the basis for denying someone parole release to another state. The new law does not discount or diminish the restitution amount but precludes the non-payment of it from barring someone from post-conviction relief or out-of-state parole.
SB 1008: Keeping Families Connected Act
Effective this year, Penal Code §2084.5(a) requires all CDCR-run state prisons to provide persons in their custody with “accessible, functional voice communications services free of charge” for both the person making the call and the person receiving the call. This new law supports the notion that families need to stay connected, especially during incarceration, and should not be deterred from communicating with loved ones based on the ability to pay for fees and costs associated with doing so.
SB 990: Changes to Placement, Transfer or Travel of Individuals on Parole
Traditionally, those who were released on parole or PRCS (Post Release Community Supervision)were extremely limited in options for out-of-county relocation and were returned to the county of their last legal residence where it was expected they would serve out their time in that same county. Now, effective next year in January 2024, under SB 990, anyone released from prison will have relocation options based on education, treatment, housing, or employment opportunities.
CA PC §1170(d)(1): Juvenile Resentencing under People v. Heard
California Penal Code §1170(d)(1) reflects a change in juvenile resentencing which stems from a recent decision where those convicted of crimes under the age of 18 and serve lengthy sentences similar to life without parole are able to request resentencing. There are other factors and requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for resentencing under the new law.
AB 1803: Indigency Exemption for Paying Filing Fees
Effective the beginning of this year, AB 1803 provides that anyone seeking petitioned record relief and meets the requisite criteria indicating they are indigent (or unable to financially pay their fees) will not have to pay the costs or fees associated with filing their petition. This means that one’s lack of financial ability to pay fees and costs associated with petitioning for record relief will not have an effect on their ability to seek that relief.
AB 960: mandatory presumption in favor of compassionate release for incarcerated persons
Effective January 2023, AB 960 was passed requiring the CDCR to participate in a process commonly known as “compassionate release”. Compassionate release describes the process where the CDCR recommends an incarcerated person’s sentence to be recalled if they meet certain medical criteria set forth in California Penal Code §1172.2(a).
AB 256: Racial Justice Retroactivity
Originally, the Racial Injustice Act was enacted to protect people from receiving criminal convictions based on race, national origin, or ethnicity. However, the original law only applied to judgments rendered after January 2021. Under the Racial Injustice Act set forth in AB 256 which took effect in January 2023, its protections extend to judgments rendered prior to January 1, 2021, depending on the requisite criteria. So, even if one has already been harmed by racial discrimination and bias in their conviction, there are afforded an opportunity to pursue justice for their unfair conviction under AB 256.
If you or someone you know needs help navigating through this definitive list of new 2023 California criminal laws as it relates to your matter, the team of criminal defense attorneys at Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, PC is available for a free consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! We also offer many financing options to meet your needs so you can obtain the best defense possible.
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