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Push To Expand 1170.95 Felony/Murder Relief

SB 300, as introduced by Senator Dave Cortese. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST: (1) Existing law defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought. Existing law classifies a murder as murder in the first degree if it is willful, deliberate, and premeditated, is committed by specified means including poison, explosive, or torture, or if it is committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate specified felonies, including robbery, carjacking, and rape. Existing law holds a person, who is not the actual killer, criminally liable for murder in the first degree if that person either, with intent to kill, aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces, solicits, requests or assists the actual killer in the commission of the murder, or is a major participant in the underlying felony and acts with reckless indifference to human life.


Under existing law, murder in the first degree is punishable by death, imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole, or imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 25 years to life. Existing law, added by Proposition 115 of the June 5, 1990, statewide primary election, provides that a person, not the actual killer, who is found guilty of first degree murder, and who, with reckless indifference to human life and as a major participant in certain specified violent felonies, aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced, solicited, requested, or assisted in the commission of that felony, shall be punished by death or imprisonment in the state prison without the possibility of parole. Existing law provides for amendment of these provisions by a 2/3 vote of each house of the Legislature.


This bill would repeal the aforementioned provision requiring punishment by death or imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole for a person convicted of murder in the first degree who is not the actual killer, but acted with reckless indifference for human life as a major participant in certain specified violent felonies. The bill would also provide a procedure for incarcerated inmates previously convicted under that provision and awaiting execution or serving a sentence of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole to petition the court to recall the sentence and resentence the inmate.


(2) Existing law provides for various specified special circumstances, including the murder of a peace officer, firefighter, or witness, which, if found true as specified, require a defendant found guilty of murder in the first degree to be sentenced to death or imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. Existing law, added by Proposition 115 of the June 5, 1990, statewide primary election, prohibits a judge from striking or dismissing any special circumstance which is admitted by plea or found true by a jury or court, as specified. Existing law provides for amendment of these provisions by a 2/3 vote of each house of the Legislature. This bill would repeal the provision prohibiting a judge from striking a special circumstance. –leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

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