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San Diego Election Results On The Criminal Law Propositions

ballot.jpgThere were three propositions on the ballot this past election day that involved criminal matters:

  1. Proposition 34: The death penalty;
  2. Proposition 35: Human trafficking; and,
  3. Proposition 36: The “Three strikes law” and repeat felonies.

Previously, I blogged about Proposition 34, and I am sad to report this measure did not pass and the death penalty will not be repealed in the State of California at this time. In a very close race, 53% of the people voted against the repeal, according to the California Secretary of State. In San Diego County, that number was slightly higher at 55%.

The voters did vote for the passage of Proposition 35 and Proposition 36.

Proposition 35, Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act, passed with 81% of the vote in California, with San Diego County voting slightly higher at 84%. This proposition intends on increasing the penalties for those convicted of human trafficking under California law. Prison sentences and fines will increase, and the convicted will have to register as sex offenders and turn over their internet access information and identities to law enforcement. In addition, the alleged victims’ prior sexual conduct will not be used against them in court and law enforcement will be trained in human trafficking.

The effects of the passage of this proposition are unclear for a few reasons. Most of these types cases are prosecuted under federal law, not state law. According to The Legislative Analyst in the California General Election Official Voter Information Guide, as of March 2012, only 18 people were in state prison serving time for human trafficking crimes.

Almost immediately after this measure was passed by 81% of the vote, two registered sex offenders filed a civil rights suit claiming this law, specifically the provision that orders them to provide law enforcement with their online screen names and internet service providers, violates their constitutional rights. The federal judge issued a temporary restraining order with a hearing on the issue to be held on November 20th. If the law is upheld, the 73,000 current registered sex offenders would have to comply.

Proposition 36 passed with 69% of the vote, amending the “three strikes law” that was passed in 1994. Under the old law, a longer prison term was imposed on a person who was convicted of any new felony if they previously had been convicted of one or more violent or serious felonies.

If the person had one previous serious or violent felony on their record, their sentence was 2x the term set by law for that new felony conviction. If they had two or more previous serious or violent felonies on their record, their sentence was life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Under the new law, a person who is convicted of two or more serious or violent felonies, but their current conviction is for a nonserious, non-violent felony, their prison term would be twice the usual term of the new offense. Some drug, sex, and gun felonies are excepted from this change.

As you can imagine, with the passage of this new proposition, many people currently housed in the state prison system qualify to have the courts resentence them to a lesser sentence under this new framework. Many will qualify to be released immediately and some will continue to serve time but with an earlier release date.

The San Diego Public Defender’s Office and the San Diego District Attorney’s Office is allegedly working together to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with all these cases in San Diego County.

With all that being said, I am sure I am not the only one that is happy to have this election season come to an end. In the near future, this blog will return to reporting on the news and events concerning driving under the influence in San Diego County.