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Sac'to Bill That Could Prevent Courts Statewide From Applying Sentencing Enhancements Is One Vote Away From Heading To Governor's Desk

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(Sept. 9, 2021, 4:45 a.m.) -- A Sacramento bill -- SB 81 -- that could effectively require courts statewide to dismiss sentencing enhancements under various circumstances -- is one state Senate vote (agreeing to Assembly amendments) from heading to Governor Newsom's desk where he could sign it into law, let it become law without his signature, or veto it .

SB 81 faces a deadline of Sept. 10 for final passage (in this case state Senate concurrence in Assembly amendments) or it dies.

An enhancement" is "an additional term of imprisonment added to the base term." (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 4.405(3).) The issue of not applying sentencing enhancements is prominent in efforts to recall L.A. County DA George Gascůn...but SB 81 (authored by state Senator Nancy Skinner (D, Berkeley) and joined by co-author Assemblyman Alex Lee (D, San Jose) -- would apply statewide.

SB 81 states in pertinent part:

...(c) (1) Notwithstanding any other law, the court shall dismiss an enhancement if it is in the furtherance of justice to do so, except if dismissal of that enhancement is prohibited by any initiative statute.

(2) In exercising its discretion under this subdivision, the court shall consider and afford great weight to evidence offered by the defendant to prove that any of the mitigating circumstances in subparagraphs (A) to (I) are present. Proof of the presence of one or more of these circumstances weighs greatly in favor of dismissing the enhancement, unless the court finds that dismissal of the enhancement would endanger public safety. "Endanger public safety" means there is a likelihood that the dismissal of the enhancement would result in physical injury or other serious danger to others.

(3) While the court may exercise its discretion at sentencing, nothing in this subdivision shall prevent a court from exercising its discretion before, during, or after trial or entry of plea.

(A) Application of the enhancement would result in a discriminatory racial impact as described in paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 745.

(B) Multiple enhancements are alleged in a single case. In this instance, all enhancements beyond a single enhancement shall be dismissed.

(C) The application of an enhancement could result in a sentence of over 20 years. In this instance, the enhancement shall be dismissed.

(D) The current offense is connected to mental illness.

(E) The current offense is connected to prior victimization or childhood trauma.

(F) The current offense is not a violent felony as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5.

(G) The defendant was a juvenile when they committed the current offense or any prior juvenile adjudication that triggers the enhancement or enhancements applied in this case.

(H) The enhancement is based on a prior conviction that is over five years old. (I) Though a firearm was used in the current offense, it was inoperable or unloaded.

(4) The circumstances listed in paragraph (2) are not exclusive and the court maintains authority to dismiss or strike an enhancement in accordance with subdivision (a).

(5) For the purposes of subparagraph (D) of paragraph (2), a mental illness is a mental disorder as identified in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, including, but not limited to, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder, but excluding antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia. A court may conclude that a defendantís mental illness was connected to the offense if, after reviewing any relevant and credible evidence, including, but not limited to, police reports, preliminary hearing transcripts, witness statements, statements by the defendantís mental health treatment provider, medical records, records or reports by qualified medical experts, or evidence that the defendant displayed symptoms consistent with the relevant mental disorder at or near the time of the offense, the court concludes that the defendantís mental illness substantially contributed to the defendantís involvement in the commission of the offense.

SB 31 would apply prospectively, not retroactively.

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On Sept. 8, SB 81 passed the Assembly 46-24, with 10 members -- including Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, LB-San Pedro) -- recorded as "no vote recorded." Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D, NLB-Paramount) and Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D, NLB-Carson) voted "yes" on final passage.

On May 26, SB 81 passed the state Senate 27-9, with 4 members -- including state Senator Tom Umberg (D, SE LB-west OC) -- recorded as "no vote recorded." It now faces a final state Senate vote to concur in Assembly amendments by a Sept. 10 11:59 p.m. deadline.

Sponsor

An August Assembly floor analysis (the last policy analysis the bill received) listed the following supporters/opponents:


REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

Support

California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (Co-Sponsor)
ACLU California Action
Alliance San Diego
Arts for Healing and Justice Network
Asian Solidarity Collective
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
California Calls
California Catholic Conference
California Public Defenders Association (CPDA)
Californians for Safety and Justice
Cat Clark Consulting Services LLC
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
Change Begins With Me Indivisible Group
Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ)
Courage California
Del Cerro for Black Lives Matter
Democratic Club of Vista
Democrats of Rossmoor
Dolores Huerta Foundation
Drug Policy Alliance
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Essie Justice Group
Faith in Action Bay Area
Fresno Barrios Unidos
Friends Committee on Legislation of California
Hillcrest Indivisible
Initiate Justice
Legal Services for Prisoners With Children
Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (LARRP)
Mission Impact Philanthropy
Multi-faith Action Coalition
Partnership for The Advancement of New Americans
Pillars of The Community
Prosecutors Alliance California
Re:store Justice
Represent Justice
Riseup
Rubicon Programs
San Diego Progressive Democratic Club
San Francisco Public Defender
Sd-qtpoc Colectivo
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) San Diego
Showing Up for Racial Justice North County San Diego
Smart Justice California
Social Workers for Equity & Leadership
Team Justice
Think Dignity
Time for Change Foundation
UC Berkeley's Underground Scholars Initiative (USI)
Underground Scholars Initiative UC Berkeley
Uprise Theatre
We the People - San Diego

Oppose

Arcadia Police Officers' Association
Burbank Police Officers Association
California Coalition of School Safety Professionals
California District Attorneys Association
California Narcotic Officers' Association
California Police Chiefs Association
California State Sheriffs' Association
Culver City Police Officers Association
Fullerton Police Officers' Association
Inglewood Police Officers Association
Los Angeles School Police Officers Association
Newport Beach Police Association
Orange County District Attorney
Palos Verdes Police Officers Association
Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC)
Pomona Police Officers' Association
Riverside Sheriffs' Association
San Diegans Against Crime
San Diego County District Attorney's Office
San Diego District Attorneys Association
Santa Ana Police Officers Association
SponsorSponsor


Sponsor

Sponsor


Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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