Learn How To Apply for Resentencing Under California’s Modified Felony Murder Rule Pursuant to Penal Code 1170.95 PC 

California Senate Bill 1437 became effective January 1, 2019 and made significant changes to felony murder and murder under a natural and probable consequences doctrine.

Prior to SB 1437, a defendant could still be charged with murder even in a situation where they were not the actual killer, had no intent to kill, or were not a primary participant in the underlying crime.

Senate Bill 1437 was passed to prevent a defendant from being charged with murder when these factors were met.

California Penal Code 1170.95 PC is language within SB 1437 that allows defendants who were convicted of murder prior to passage of this bill to have their convictions vacated.

In a situation where a defendant was charged with felony murder or murder under a natural and probable consequences doctrine, then under PC 1170.95, they might get the court to vacate the conviction, if they meet just one of the bill’s criteria:

  • defendant was not he actual killer,
  • defendant didn’t have an intent to kill, or
  • defendant wasn’t a primary participant in underlying crime that acted with a reckless indifference to human life.

Prior to Senate Bill 1437, defendants could be convicted under the theory of natural and probable consequences which meant if two people committed a felony, but one committed a murder during the felony, then the other person could also be charged with murder.

Now, Penal Code 1170.95 PC says you can’t be convicted of murder merely because you were a participant in a felony crime where another person was killed.

How Can I Request PC 1170.95 Resentencing?

In order to request resentencing under Penal Code 1170.95 PC, you have to submit a petition with the court stating the reasons why you should be get a new sentence pursuant to Senate Bill 1437.Resentencing on Felony Murder in California

If the court determines you would not have been convicted under the new law, then they will vacate your murder conviction. Then, you will be resentenced on the rest of the charges on the case.

However, to submit a petition for resentencing, you must meet the following factors:

  • you were charged with murder under the doctrine of natural and probable consequences,
  • you were convicted of murder or entered a guilty plea to first or second-degree murder, and
  • you couldn’t be convicted of murder due to changes in the felony murder statute.

If you are seeking to file a motion for resentencing, you will need an experienced California murder defense attorney to have the best chance at success.

New Rules for Murder Charges in California

The legislature has come up with SB 1437, which basically helps individuals who have been convicted of murder.

Not only does it help people who have been convicted and they can be resentenced if they meet certain qualifications, it also is helpful to individuals who are being charged with murder pursuant to the felony/murder doctrine. Basically, what it says is that:

  • we’re no longer just going to throw a net around anybody who was involved in a situation where a murder occurred;
  • first, we’re going to look at what the circumstances were, how many people were involved — and we’re going to look specifically at a particular defendant to see what they did;
  • if the person is the shooter and killed somebody, that individual is not going to be helped with SB 1437;
  • if, on the other hand, the person is the getaway driver and had no intent to kill anybody, that person will clearly be helped with Penal Code Section 1437;
  • that person is not going to be prosecuted for murder in a new case. If they were involved in a robbery, for example, they’ll still be prosecuted.

To me, the big question becomes what about the person who wasn’t the shooter, but also wasn’t the getaway driver, but was still involved in the robbery? In our example, what if a look-out went into the store with the actual shooter and was involved?

That person is going to have to be pegged as a major participant and show reckless indifference to human life.  Those two things right there are very murky proposition.  That’s where the battle is going to lie in a lot of these cases.

Requirements for Resentencing Pursuant to SB 1437

First, a case where somebody is going to be resentenced pursuant to 1437.  You’re going to have to file a Petition and meet certain requirements.

But the biggest arguments are going to come in relation to circumstances where somebody wasn’t the shooter, but also wasn’t the getaway driver.  What was their role?  What did they do?

We’re going to have to look at the facts and the details.  If your Petition is granted for a hearing, you’re able to present new evidence that you might have, that really puts somebody in a position to defend themselves and show they were not a major participant.

They should not have been convicted of murder, where the person has already been convicted; and therefore, the murder conviction should be overturned.

Then, what would happen is, if somebody were successful, not only would their murder conviction be overturned, they’re going to be subject to resentencing.

Example of Resentencing on Murder Charges

So, in our example where somebody is committing a Penal Code 211 robbery and a murder occurs, if their murder conviction is overturned, now they’re going to be sent back to court to be sentenced on the robbery, and that’s huge for a lot of people.

Some people have served 10, 15, 20 years in prison.  Once they get resentenced on that robbery, they’re going to get out.  Robbery has a high term of six years.

Now, if there are guns involved and other allegations, those could be relevant.  But most of the time, if they’ve served a significant sentence, they’re going to be resentenced.  They’re going to get credit for the time they’ve already served and they’re going to get out.

Contact a Criminal Lawyer at the Hedding Law Firm

So, if you or a loved one is looking to be resentenced, you’ve definitely come to the right place.  We can file a Petition with the court on your behalf and try to convince the judge to get a hearing.Criminal Defense Lawyer for California Murder Cases

If we get the hearing, that’s kind of like a mini trial, we’re then able to present evidence to show that you should not have been convicted of murder.

Maybe you should have been convicted of the robbery and that’s the usual circumstance that we see, but there’s all kinds of different twists in various cases, depending on the circumstances of your particular case.

If on the other hand, you or a loved one is actually charged currently with murder and they’re using that felony murder theory to try to get you to say, even though you might not have been the shooter, you’re still responsible because a death occurred during a felony.

Of course, that’s when you’re going to want to have a criminal defense attorney like me who’s been doing this now for almost three decades.  The law has changed for the better as it relates to these types of cases.

Pick up the phone.  Make the call.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm based in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office for a free case consultation at (213) 542-0940.