Attorney Matthew G. Kaestner

Long Beach's Criminal Law Specialist


New criminal laws taking effect in 2019 are relatively un-eventful compared to prior years. Nonetheless, law enforcement will soon have to be more transparent, persons who receive certificates of rehabilitation have better chances of getting a job, and persons who suffer certain domestic violence convictions are prohibited from ever possessing a gun. The following page by Long Beach criminal law Specialist, attorney Matthew Kaestner, outlines some of the new criminal laws in California for 2019.

Vendors who sell ammunition must now verify a purchaser’s ability to lawfully purchase the ammo. Vendors must also collect the buyers personal information, and electronically report that information and the details of the sale to the California Department of Justice [DOJ] under amended Penal Code section 30352.

On October 1, 2019, bail on California state cases will be a thing of the past unless a ballot measure overturns the legislation creating a new non-bail system of pre-trial release.

About 500,000 people were arrested for marijuana offenses in the last ten years, yet as of September 2017, only five thousand people petitioned to reduce or dismiss their marijuana convictions. New Health and Safety Code section 11361.9 requires the California DOJ to identify cases eligible for reduction or dismissal and report them to local prosecutors for reduction, dismissal and sealing as appropriate. Prosecutors have until July of 2020 to identify those cases they will oppose being reduced or dismissed.

California Election Code section 18302 (b) has been added and creates the new misdemeanor crime of distributing false information regarding eligibility to vote, as well as when and where one can vote in an election. Criminal mis-information must be disseminated with the intent to deceive.

New Penal Code section 538(h) makes it a misdemeanor to impersonate a government search and rescue team member.

Penal Code section 188 was amended to make the crime of murder applicable only to accomplices who act with malice aforethought or who were major participants in a felony that resulted in a death and who acted with reckless indifference to human life. Prior law allowed a non-killer who knowingly participated in a crime or felony that resulted in death to be convicted of the crime of murder. The new law also allows persons previously convicted under the “natural and probable consequences” or “felony murder” principles to apply to have their convictions reduced or dismissed.

New Penal Code section 11105(b)(9) was amended to require the Attorney General to furnish state criminal history information to criminal defense attorneys if they need it in the course of their duties.

Penal Code sections 1001.35/36 set up a diversion program for persons with diagnosable mental disorders who commit their crimes due to their disorder and are likely to respond positively to treatment. Persons participating in the diversion can earn a pre-conviction dismissal of the charges. Only homicides and sex crimes are completely ineligible. Eligibility and suitability are determined by the judge.

Prosecuting agencies and probation departments can create repeat theft diversion programs for persons with two or more theft offenses within a twelve month period. [P.C. 1001.81]

Persons convicted of Penal Code section 273.5 (domestic violence causing a physical injury) will suffer a lifetime firearm ban. Possession after such a conviction is a felony carrying a possible state prison sentence. [Penal Code section 29805 (b)] Under current law, other violent misdemeanors can result in a ten year gun prohibition.

Interlock devices will now be required for persons convicted of DUI with a prior or for first offenders who cause injury. The device will be required for a period ranging from 12 to 48 months.

Several new laws will force greater transparency for law enforcement agencies. Amendments to Penal Code section 832.7 and 832.8 will require the release of records relating to the discharge of a firearm at a citizen, force that causes death or great bodily injury, sexual assault on a member of the public or a sustained finding of dishonesty by an officer during the performance of his duties.

Commencing in 2020 each local law enforcement agency must post their standards, policies, practices, operating procedures and education and training materials. [Penal Code section 13650]

Several new laws in 2019 have followed a recent trend to make it easier for persons with a criminal conviction in their distant past to obtain employment. Penal Code section 17(b) was amended to allow “wobbler” offenses (alternate felony/misdemeanor crimes) to be reduced after completion of probation even if a sentence was imposed as a condition of probation.

A person who’s conviction was expunged under Penal Code section 1203.4 can now apply for a certificate of rehabilitation. [Amended PC 4852.6 ]

Labor Code section 432.7 was amended to clarify the circumstances under which an employer is prohibited from asking a job applicant about … convictions that have been … dismissed or ordered sealed, by limiting … inquiries to “particular convictions” where the conviction … would legally prohibit someone from holding that job.

When an arrest resulted in no conviction, Penal Code sections 851.91 and 851.92 provide for partial sealing of arrest records without a showing of factual innocence as is required for a more complete sealing under Penal Code section 851.8. New Judicial Council forms CR-409-410 can be used to file for the relief.

Knowing how a new or an old law will be used to prosecute you or a loved one is critical to designing the best possible defense to the charge. Long Beach criminal law attorney, Matthew Kaestner, is the best attorney to turn to for up to date, informed, and expert legal advice on a criminal matter. He can be contacted directly at 562-437-0200.