California Senate Bill 1437 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018, and this law made significant changes to the state’s felony murder rule. The felony murder rule is a centuries-old legal doctrine that has been used to hold people automatically liable for first-after a murder if a death occurs during the commission of certain other felonies, such as robbery or home invasion, even if an individual had no intention of killing someone or aiding in the killing of a person. A 2018 survey of California prisons revealed that the felony murder rule, prior to this new law taking effect, disproportionately impacted young people of color and women.
As of January 1, 2019, SB 1437 ended the practice of sentencing a person for first-degree murder if they did not commit homicide or even have knowledge that the homicide occurred. According to the language of this new law (we will call it the new felony murder rule), a person can only be guilty of “felony murder” if:
Based on how the law is written, the following people can be resentenced under SB 1437:
If you have any questions about who can be resentenced under the new legislation, please reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. However, if you could have been charged with murder using the current legal definition of homicide, then you will not be eligible to be resentenced.
There are a few possibilities of relief that can be granted by the court under SB 1437. This includes the following:
Properly understanding who will be eligible for relief from the court under the provisions of SB 1437 can be confusing. A qualified criminal defense attorney in Riverside with experience handling these claims and an understanding of the most recent changes in the law will be best able to help you navigate this process.