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GOVERNOR APPROVES AB 124

AB 124 – (Kamlager) Status: 10/08/2021 Approved by the Governor. Legislative Counsel’s Digest: (1) Existing law allows a person who was arrested or convicted of a nonviolent offense while they were a victim of human trafficking to petition the court, under penalty of perjury, for vacatur relief. Existing law requires, to receive that relief, that the person establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that the arrest or conviction was the direct result of being a victim of human trafficking. This bill would create similar relief for a person who was arrested or convicted of an offense that was the direct result of being a victim of intimate partner violence or sexual violence. By expanding the scope of the crime of perjury, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. Existing law creates an affirmative defense against a charge of a crime that the person was coerced to commit the offense as a direct result of being a human trafficking victim at the time of the offense and when the person had reasonable fear of harm. Existing law prohibits this defense from being used with respect to a serious or violent felony, as defined, or a charge of human trafficking. This bill would allow that defense to be used with respect to a serious felony or a charge of human trafficking. The bill would additionally create a defense against a charge of a crime that the person was coerced to commit the offense as a direct result of being a victim of intimate partner violence or sexual violence at the time of the offense and had a reasonable fear of harm. (2) Existing law specifies the pleas that may be made to an indictment, information, or complaint charging a misdemeanor or infraction, including the pleas of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere. Existing law defines “plea bargaining” as any bargaining, negotiation, or discussion between a criminal defendant, or their counsel, and a prosecuting attorney or judge, whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty or nolo contendere, in exchange for any promises, commitments, concessions, assurances, or consideration by the prosecuting attorney or judge relating to any charge against the defendant or to the sentencing of the defendant. This bill would require the prosecutor, during plea negotiations, to consider in support of a mitigated sentence whether the person has experienced psychological, physical, or childhood trauma, was a youth, as defined, at the time of the commission of the offense, or was a victim of intimate partner violence or human trafficking. (3) Existing law, after January 1, 2022, requires the court, when a judgment of imprisonment is imposed and specifies 3 possible terms, to impose the middle term unless there are circumstances in aggravation or mitigation of the crime. This bill would require the court to impose the lower term if the person has experienced psychological, physical, or childhood trauma, was a youth, as defined, at the time of the commission of the offense, or was a victim of intimate partner violence or human trafficking, unless the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances that the imposition of the lower term would be contrary to the interests of justice. Existing law authorizes a court, within 120 days after sentencing the defendant or at any time upon a recommendation from specified correctional entities, to recall an inmate’s sentence and resentence that inmate to a lesser sentence. This bill would require the court, when resentencing, to consider if the defendant has experienced psychological, physical, or childhood trauma, including, but not limited to, abuse, neglect, exploitation, or sexual violence, if the defendant was a victim of intimate partner violence or human trafficking prior to or at the time of the commission of the offense, or if the defendant is a youth or was a youth at the time of the commission of the offense, and whether those circumstances were a contributing factor in the commission of the offense. (4) This bill would incorporate additional changes to Section 1170 of the Penal Code proposed by AB 1540 and SB 567 to be operative only if this bill, AB 1540, and SB 567 are enacted and this bill is enacted last. (5) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.


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