NEW LAWS IN CALIFORNIA FOR 2020
New criminal laws taking effect in 2020 continue the trend of focusing on rehabilitation and giving offenders a second chance. Likewise laws aimed at curbing abuses by law enforcement continue to expand. The following page by Long Beach criminal law Specialist, attorney Matthew Kaestner, outlines some of the new criminal laws in California for 2020.
In signing into law a number of these reforms, Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that the bills overall “show a new path to ensure our state moves closer toward a more equitable criminal justice system,” while some “give hope to those that have earned a second chance in our communities.”
FELONS ON JURIES
Having a jury of one’s peers was given a big boost. Senate Bill [SB] 310 allows most persons convicted of a felony to serve jury duty unless they’re on any form of felony supervision, or are a registered sex offender.
Smokers can no longer light up at the beach or in parks as SB 8 bans smoking at all state beaches and parks, with a fine of $25 per violator. It also makes it illegal to toss a cigarette or cigar onto a state beach.
Say goodbye to the circus as we once new it. SB 313 bans the use of exotic animals like elephants in circus acts. It only allows dogs, cats and domesticated horses to be part of circus performances. SB 1249 bans the import and sale of cosmetics products in California that include ingredients that were tested on animals or manufactured through animal testing.
WEAPONS RESTRAINING ORDERS EXPANDED
AB 12 expands who can petition a judge to confiscate a citizen’s weapons based on the belief that the gun owner may be violent. Existing law allows police, immediate family members and roommates to request a restraining order. The updated law allows employers, coworkers and teachers to be able to do so. The law goes into effect Sept. 1, 2020.
PRIVATE PRISONS ELIMINATED
AB 32 bars California from keeping prisoners in private, for-profit prisons and immigrant detention centers starting in 2028. Starting on Jan. 1, 2020, the state cannot renew contracts with private prisons.
Facial recognition software may not be used in body worn cameras by law enforcement officers. Perhaps the fact that 26 state legislators were falsely identified when the ACLU ran their faces through a database of mugshots helped this new law get passed. California joined Oregon and New Hampshire in blocking the use of this technology in body worn cameras.
Automatic expungements are coming! Assembly Bill [AB] 1076 the California Department of Justice will set up an automated record clearance system for persons arrested after January 1, 2021 when the arrest does not result in a conviction or for convictions for qualifying low-level offenses without having to go through the current cumbersome process.
A California Policy Lab estimated that more than a million people will have a new detention, arrest, or conviction in the first five years, and about 44% will be eligible to have one or more cases expunged automatically. The new system will exclude registered sex offenders and those with any pending criminal charges.
AB 1668 establishes the Education and Employment Reentry Program within the California Conservation Corps and authorizes the director to enroll formerly incarcerated individuals.
AB 1618 prohibits plea bargains that require a defendant to generally waive unknown future potential benefits of changes in the law that may occur after the date of the plea.
INMATE DENTAL/MEDICAL CARE
Another new law makes California the first state to bar health and dental co-pays for inmates in both the state prison and in county jails.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The time to prosecute domestic violence incidents was extended from one year to five years.
OTHER LAWS AIDING CRIME VICTIMS
Rape kits must be submitted for testing within 20 days by law enforcement agencies under new SB 22. Immigrant crime victims will be helped by AB 917 which further expedites the victim certification process for immigrants, including when the victim is in removal proceedings, for the purposes of obtaining T-Visas or U-Visas. Victims of violent crime now have seven years instead of just three to seek compensation. Crime victims also have the right to be notified and a court hearing is now required before a court can order the early termination of probation. [AB 433.]
SB 439 changes the age minors can be sent to juvenile hall to 12 and older. A child under 12 must be released to their parent or legal guardian. The law does not apply to minors who commit murder, rape or great bodily harm.
The one-year enhancement added to current sentences for each prior felony jail or prison term was abolished. State officials estimated that about 10,000 inmates currently have the one-year bumps in their sentences. A second new law removed mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes, leaving the sentencing decision to the judges’ discretion.
MOTIONS TO DISCOVER POLICE PERSONNEL RECORDS
AB 1600 shortens the notice requirement in criminal cases when a defendant files a motion to discover police officer misconduct from 16 days to 10 days.
New laws or old laws can be used to prosecute you or a loved one. Knowing when they apply to your factual situation and what are the legal defenses to the charge is critical to bringing the best legal defense. If you’re looking for the best Long Beach criminal lawyer for immediate assistance, contact Matthew Kaestner. He will personally answer your questions and provide you up to date, informed, and expert legal advice on a criminal matter. He can be contacted directly at 562-437-0200.