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SB 94 Update

SB 94, as amended, Cortese. An act to add Section 1172.5 to the Penal Code, relating to sentencing. Status: 5/18/2023 From committee: Do pass as amended. (Ayes 5. Noes 2.) Amendments: It is the intent of the Legislature that judges be given an opportunity to review sentences of life without parole or death for offenses prior to BEFORE June 5, 1990, to exercise their discretion in sentencing, considering mitigating factors and changed circumstances as now required in sentencing. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST: Existing law provides for various specified special circumstances, including murder committed for financial gain or committed during the commission or attempted commission of certain felonies, 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 that is admitted by plea or found true by a jury or court, as specified. Existing law generally authorizes a court to dismiss an action or to strike or dismiss an enhancement in the furtherance of justice, except if dismissal of that enhancement is prohibited by any initiative statute. This bill would authorize an individual sentenced to death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for a conviction in which one or more special circumstances were found to be true to petition for recall and resentencing if the offense occurred before June 5, 1990, and the individual has served at least 20 years in custody. The bill would authorize the court to modify the petitioner’s sentence to impose a lesser sentence and apply any changes in law that reduce sentences or provide for judicial discretion, or to vacate the petitioner’s conviction and impose judgment on a lesser included offense, as specified. The bill would require a court to consider and afford great weight to evidence offered by the petitioner to prove that specified mitigating circumstances are present. The bill would provide that proof of the presence of one or more specified mitigating circumstances weighs greatly in favor of dismissing a special circumstance, unless the court finds that petitioner is currently an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety, as defined. The bill would require the court to appoint the State Public Defender or other qualified counsel for an indigent petitioner.

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