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Nine New Noteworthy Criminal Law Laws for 2022

The Gist of this Article: The significant new laws for 2022 include many regarding resentencing for inmates in prison and sentencing on active cases, as well as extending Penal Code § 1473.7(a)(1) motions to vacate for immigration purposes to convictions reached at trial.           
Each new year ushers in a series of new laws.  Some years, there does not seem to be more than one or two new laws that are significant.  Other years there are nine or ten.  2022 will see nine new laws come into effect that we think will have far-reaching, significant effects.  They are, in no particular order:
  1. Senate Bill (SB) 775.  This new law expands the provisions of Senate Bill 1437’s redefinition of felony murder and abolition of aider and abettor liability under the natural and probable consequences doctrine to attempted murder and manslaughter if defendant was prosecuted under an implied malice or natural and probable consequences doctrine.  This law is retroactive.  At the bottom of this article is a link to a separate article describing SB 775 in more detail.
  2. Assembly Bill (AB) 1540.  This new law requires the judge to appoint counsel for an inmate when the CDCR, the Bureau of Parole Hearings (BOPH) or the district attorney recommend recall and resentencing of an inmate.  Such counsel will be looked upon to properly present reasons for the judge to resentence the inmate to a lesser sentence after consideration of the case facts, the mitigating factors of youth (if applicable) and defendant’s post-conviction conduct.
  3. Senate Bill (SB) 567.  This new law requires the jury to find true any aggravating factors relied upon a judge if the judge imposes a sentence exceeding the middle term of the sentencing triad for any particular crime.  This limits the judge’s sentencing discretion and power by requiring the jury to find such support for the upper term.
  4. Senate Bill (SB) 317. This law authorizes good conduct credits be applied for a person found incompetent to stand trial who is receiving treatment at a treatment facility and modifies existing procedures to allow treatment at community-based treatment facilities for those found incompetent who face misdemeanor charges, rather than a locked facility.
  5. Senate Bill (SB) 23.  This law extends the statute of limitations for prosecution for revenge porn to one year, but no more than four years after the image was distributed (and amends Penal Code § 803 relating to disorderly conduct).
  6. Assembly Bill (AB) 1259.  This law extends the provisions of Penal Code § 1437.7(a)(1) to sentences imposed after trial.  Penal Code § 1437.7(a)(1) allows for vacating a conviction due to a prejudicial error related to immigration consequences, often because defendant did not understand that deportation would happen after accepting a certain plea bargain to a certain charge.
  7. Assembly Bill (AB) 700.  This allows a defendant in custody who refuses to come to court from jail and who has been advised of his right to be present to appear by counsel with or without a written waiver if the judge if the judge makes a finding by clear and convincing evidence that doing so is necessary.  This law amends Penal Code §§ 977, 1043 and 1043.5.
  8. Assembly Bill (AB) 333.  This law redefines the term “pattern of criminal gang activity” and “criminal street gang” for purposes of a gang offense, the gang enhancement to sentencing and the alternative penalty under the STEP Act and requires bifurcation of a multi-defendant trial between gang-related defendants and defendants who do not face gang penalties under Penal Code § 186.22.  The law amends Penal Code § 186.22 and adds Penal Code § 1109.
  9. Senate Bill (SB) 483.  This law requires the CDCR to identify every inmate serving a sentence for a repealed enhancement, i.e., the one-year “prison prior” under Penal Code § 667.5(b) (as repealed by Senate Bill 136) and the three-year “drug prior” (as repealed by Senate Bill 180), and then provide that information, along with the case number to the sentencing court for resentencing on that portion of the sentence.  The sentencing court, in turn, will be required to decide if the sentence should be modified to exclude this sentence enhancement.  The judge will have to consider whether under the facts of the case, Senate Bill 136, for example, excludes relief to those convicted of sexually violent offenses and Senate 180 excludes relief for those who committed certain drug offenses with the help of minors.
For more information about some of the laws mentioned in the above article, please click on the following articles:
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