California ballot propositions allow voters to make their voices heard on a variety of legal and social issues.  Several rapidly upcoming propositions, which Californians will vote on this November, deal with the criminal justice system, and therefore have a direct impact upon defendants, inmates, and their loved ones.  In this article, our Ventura murder attorneys discuss Prop 66 and Prop 62, which both deal with the use of capital punishment; Prop 57, which relates to parole for non-violent felons; and Prop 64, which would legalize marijuana in California for adult users.

Prop 62 Could Repeal California’s Death Penalty, Prop 66 Could Speed it Up

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As of September 2016, California still has capital punishment, or the death penalty.  However, that may be changing soon.  On November 8, 2016, California residents will have the opportunity to vote on two opposing capital punishment initiatives:

  • Proposition 62
    • Alternate Titles – Repeal of the Death Penalty Initiative, Justice That Works Act
    • Intended Effects – Prop 62 would eliminate capital punishment and provide as a substitute life sentencing without the possibility of parole, a move proponents assert would save California taxpayers approximately $150 million per year. Prop 62 would also implement prison work requirements in order to help better direct restitution payments toward victims’ families.  Prop 62 would apply retroactively, which means it would apply to current death row inmates.
  • Proposition 66
    • Alternate Titles – Death Penalty Procedures Initiative, Death Penalty Reform and Savings Initiative
    • Intended Effects – Prop 66 would accelerate the legal process governing the use of California’s death penalty by “expand[ing] the pool of available defense attorneys,” requiring the appointment of attorneys at the time of sentencing, and making other changes. Similar to Prop 62, Prop 66 would require California’s death row inmates to work while incarcerated.  Additionally, Prop 66 would incentivize the payment of restitution by removing privileges from inmates who did not comply.

With the vote less than two months away, approximately 750 inmates are sitting on California’s “death row” – more than in any other state.

Prop 57 Affects Parole for Felons, Prop 64 to Legalize Marijuana Possession


Prop 57 could affect inmates who have already been sentenced to prison for non-violent felony offenses, such as drug possession or white collar crimes like identity theft.

  • Proposition 57
    • Alternate Titles – California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative, Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016
    • Intended Effects – Prop 57 would make it easier for inmates who are serving time for non-violent felonies to be paroled. It would also significantly impact juvenile defendants by shifting the decision to try juveniles as adults from prosecutors to judges.  If your teenage son or daughter has been charged with a crime in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, such as shoplifting, vandalism, or underage drinking, our Ventura juvenile defense lawyers can help.
  • Proposition 64
    • Alternate Titles – Adult Use of Marijuana Act, California Marijuana Legalization Initiative
    • Intended Effects – The purpose of Prop 64 is directly stated in its name: to legalize marijuana for California residents aged 21 or older. Prop 64 is focused exclusively on adults, and would ban marijuana advertisements that target minors.  Importantly, Prop 64 would allow not only for the resentencing of marijuana offenders, but also for the destruction of existing criminal records for prior marijuana possession convictions.

As of September 2016, simple possession of recreational (non-medical) marijuana can be treated as an infraction or a misdemeanor, depending on the person’s age and whether the act of possession occurred on school property.  An offender may receive a fine ranging from $100 to $500, and could also be incarcerated for anywhere from 10 days to six months, unless the offense is an infraction, in which case there is no jail sentence.  If the offender is a minor, he or she will be placed into a juvenile detention center rather than a county jail, in order to stay separated from adult offenders.

Ventura County Defense Lawyers Handling Drug Possession and Murder Charges

Though they address diverse issues, all of these ballot propositions stand to have a major impact on current and future defendants and prisoners throughout the state of California.  Whichever propositions you may support or oppose, voting will let you participate in shaping California’s criminal justice system.  Don’t miss your opportunity to lend your voice to the conversation.

If one of your family members has been charged with murder under California Penal Code 187, or with a drug-related offense in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, turn to the Ventura drug possession lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC for aggressive legal representation.  We have over 20 years of experience handling wobblers, misdemeanors, and felony charges.  To talk about your legal matter in a free and confidential consultation, call our law offices right away at (805) 643-5555.