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SB 1437 Revises the Notorious Felony-Murder Law


At Stein & Marcus, we strive to provide exceptional criminal defense for every person that comes through our doors. Sometimes, though, the law puts up roadblocks that make it difficult to get justice.

When lawmakers do not quite get it right, they sometimes fix those mistakes through passing new legislation, which is exactly what happened with the passing of SB 1437. This law changes the face of felony-murder charges and allows us to better defend you.

What Is SB 1437?

According to the California State Senate Democratic Caucus, SB 1437 changes the existing law for liability in felony-murder charges. Prior to this change, the law said that during the commission of a felony, if someone died, it was murder, and everyone involved in the crime would face first-degree murder charges. You could face a murder charge even if you had no intent to kill someone and did not actually kill someone.

The change under SB 1437 makes a first-degree murder charge only applicable in specific circumstances. The first situation is when you are the person who actually killed the victim and had the intent to kill the person. The second situation is if you encouraged or helped someone else kill a person.

The next situation is a little more complex because it requires that you are a major participant in the criminal act that led to the death. A major participant means that you were aware of the crime, helped plan it or played an important role in the commission of the crime. The court will also consider whether you were present when the murder happened and if you could have stopped it from happening either physically or having knowledge of what would happen ahead of time.

California Legislative Information explains that the bill also allows for a felony murder charge against anyone involved if the victim is a law enforcement officer. You had to have knowledge that the person was an officer or should have known he or she was an officer.

The changes allow us to help you avoid felony-murder charges, which carry a possible prison term of 25 years to life. Instead, we can seek a lesser sentence since other murder charges only carry a potential 15 years to life.

How Does This Help Those Convicted Prior to SB 1437?

In addition to assisting you with a current criminal charge, we also can help you with a past conviction. SB 1437 also allows people who the court convicted under the previous law to submit a California SB 1437 petition for a new sentence under the change.

We can review the circumstances of your case to see if SB 1437 applies, and if so, we will assist you with filing the petition and seeking a new sentence. You could have years removed from your original sentence, allowing you to get out of prison sooner.

What Opposition Is Holding Up Appeals and Resentencing?

Unfortunately, not everyone is in agreement with what SB 1437 is doing. The Appeal reports that some people believe this bill is unconstitutional. They say it violates the separation of powers guaranteed in the constitution because it allows the legislature to insist courts reopen cases they already heard. In addition, they do not like that courts can change previous sentences, which is a power that only the governor has under the law.

These people in opposition have flooded the courts with motions to challenge the constitutionality of SB 1437. While these cases move through the courts, it will hold up every case waiting for resentencing. You could face a delay in even being able to file your California SB 1437 petition.

The good news is that the Fourth District Appellate District upheld the constitutionality of this bill, and the California Supreme Court refuses to hear reviews on its constitutionality. Any further cases trying to address the constitutionality of this bill seem to be dead in the water, which is good news for you if you wish to petition for resentencing.

How Should You Move Forward After SB 1437?

Whether you already have a felony-murder conviction and want to petition for resentencing or if you are facing a current charge, Stein & Markus is here to offer you a zealous defense. We want to ensure that justice is done in your case, and with SB 1437, we now have a better chance of ensuring you get a fair trial.

Contact us right now to discuss your case. Our experienced criminal attorneys in Los Angeles are ready to assist you through this difficult time and to help you stand up for your rights.

The post SB 1437 Revises the Notorious Felony-Murder Law appeared first on Law Office of Stein & Markus | Attorney in Bellflower, CA.

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