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L.A. County District Attorney’s Office Resentencing Policy FAQs

What is the District Attorney’s resentencing policy? District Attorney George Gascón is committed to reviewing sentences of people who are incarcerated and serving punishments that are no longer appropriate under current law and/or office policies and practices. Penal Code Section 1170(d) authorizes the District Attorney to request that an individual’s sentence be recalled and reconsidered if “continued incarceration is no longer in the interest of justice.” The District Attorney’s Office is currently in the process of establishing a Resentencing Unit that will eventually process and review cases for resentencing consideration pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(d). The Resentencing Unit will prioritize cases for resentencing based on governing law, careful review of available data, individual case files, public safety, and policy priorities specified by the District Attorney.


Is the District Attorney’s Office reviewing cases for resentencing consideration? Yes. The District Attorney is establishing a Resentencing Unit to provide a fair and efficient process. The District Attorney is currently in the process of reviewing cases that have been recommended for resentencing by the California Department of Corrections pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(d) due to exceptional conduct or medical urgency. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 cases may qualify for resentencing consideration under the District Attorney’s resentencing policy.Because of the large number of cases potentially eligible for resentencing consideration, a Resentencing Unit is being established within the District Attorney’s Office that will be responsible for developing and implementing a fair, orderly, and efficient process for evaluating cases for resentencing consideration. The Resentencing Unit will follow governing statutes and make determinations based on available data, individual case considerations, public safety, and policy priorities specified in the District Attorney’s Special Directive. Although the District Attorney is authorized to request and recommend resentencing in certain cases, a judge makes the ultimate decision whether to grant or deny such a request.


Will certain cases be given priority? Yes. The cases will be prioritized as follows: Priority will be given to the following three categories of incarcerated individuals: Adults a) Age 50 and older; AND b) Sentenced to 20 years or more; AND c) Served a minimum of 10 years in custody; AND d) Serving a sentence for a non-serious or nonviolent felony [Serious and violent felonies are defined in Penal Code section 1192.7(c) and Penal Code section 667.5(c)]; AND e) Has not suffered a prior conviction for a “super strike,” as defined in Penal Code section 667(e)(2)(C)(IV); AND f) Is not a sex offender registrant.


Can I request that the District Attorney consider a case for resentencing? No. The District Attorney’s Office cannot accept calls, emails, letters, or other submissions regarding individual cases. The District Attorney’s Office cannot respond to requests or concerns regarding individual cases. We appreciate that many cases involve extenuating circumstances deserving special attention, and we will do our best to address them. However, in order to maintain a fair and orderly process, requests for resentencing consideration made by incarcerated individuals, family members, attorneys, and/or other representatives and advocates will not be considered at this time. The best way to support individuals seeking resentencing is to encourage them to participate in rehabilitative programming and avoid disciplinary actions while incarcerated. We understand that the pandemic has limited the number of programs available in prison, so we encourage those who are able to participate in related correspondence courses. Gathering letters of support from institutional staff, family, community members, and re-entry providers also may be helpful. Retain this information for use in the event that a resentencing hearing is scheduled. Do not send any documents to the District Attorney’s Office. Neither individuals, family members nor attorneys are permitted to request resentencing under Penal Code Section 1170(d). The resentencing request must be made by the District Attorney, the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Sheriff, or the Board of Parole Hearings.


Will I know if a case is being considered for resentencing? Yes. You will be notified by the District Attorney’s Office, your attorney, or a nonprofit organization with whom we are collaborating that your case is under consideration for resentencing. When there is a determination that your case is being considered, you will be notified in writing.


Will victims be notified if a case is being considered for resentencing? Yes. The District Attorney’s Office will notify crime victims and provide an opportunity for them to be heard. In conformity with state law and as part of its evaluation process, the District Attorney’s Office will endeavor to contact impacted crime victims and provide notice of any upcoming court proceeding. Crime victims in any case being considered for resentencing will have an opportunity to address the District Attorney’s Office and the court as part of any resentencing proceeding.


Will cases be recommended for resentencing return to court? Yes. When the District Attorney files a resentencing request, a court date may be set to hear evidence and argument on whether to reduce an individual’s sentence. Under Penal Code Section 1170(d), a consideration for resentencing proceeding begins upon the request of the District Attorney or other law enforcement agency specified by statute. When a resentencing request is properly filed, a court date may be set. Because the decision whether to grant or deny such a request is made by a judge, the incarcerated individuals and/or their legal representatives should present evidence as to why continued incarceration is, or is no longer in the interest of justice, including evidence of rehabilitation and adequate re-entry support.


Does the District Attorney decide whether or not a person will be resentenced? No. Decisions to reduce sentences are made by judges, not by the District Attorney. Although the District Attorney may request that an individual’s sentence be reduced, the decision whether to grant or deny such a request is made by either the original judge in the case or a judge appointed by the presiding judge. In deciding whether to resentence an individual upon the recommendation of the District Attorney, judges generally consider the following factors: an individual's rehabilitative programming and disciplinary record while incarcerated, age, amount of time served, any diminished physical condition or medical issue, future risk to public safety, re-entry plans, and other circumstances that may have changed over time.


Do I need a lawyer for resentencing consideration? The District Attorney does not accept recommendations for resentencing and cannot give legal advice. The District Attorney’s Office is not considering recommendations for resentencing by outside counsel. Therefore, a lawyer cannot initiate or accelerate the review process for an individual case. When a case is identified by the Resentencing Unit of the District Attorney’s Office as eligible for resentencing consideration, incarcerated individuals and their last known counsel will be notified because legal representation may be helpful at that point in time. Once a case is identified for resentencing consideration, the District Attorney’s Office plans to work closely with public defenders and nonprofit organizations to ensure that every person recommended for resentencing has access to free legal services, although individuals are always free to hire their own lawyer.

--https://da.lacounty.gov/policies/resentencing-FAQ

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