SB 1437: Frequently Asked Questions

We are not a law firm and cannot answer questions about individual cases. These FAQs are meant to provide general information.

SB 1437 does provide for the appointment of counsel for those who submit a petition asserting their eligibility for relief. Please consult with your counsel on your case.

Petitions

When does SB 1437 go into effect since Governor Brown signed it?
January 2, 2019, is the first day petitions can be submitted. (January 1, 2019, is a court holiday.)

What is the petition and where can I get it?
Re:store Justice has prepared a form petition for use by persons who are eligible for relief from murder convictions under SB 1437. The purpose of this form is to initiate proceedings in the Superior Court in which a person was sentenced and cause that court to appoint an attorney to represent them in the re-sentencing process. It is also designed to screen out defendants who are ineligible for relief.

This form is not required to be used. The Judicial Council of the State of California may also prepare and make available a form petition for resentencing under SB 1437. Attorneys may prepare petitions that are not a form.

The Re:store Justice petition is available online at https://restorecal.org/sb1437/.

We are requiring people to send us their email address when they get the petition for the simple reason that since we first posted it, we’ve made changes and alterations and we have been able to email people directly with updates. When the instruction book on re-sentencing is available, we are able to email people directly.

What is the purpose of the petition?
The purpose of the petition is to show the courts that a person is eligible for resentencing under the bill. The petitioner may also request counsel at this time.

Should I get an attorney?
Upon the submission of the petition, the petitioner will have the opportunity to request counsel.

How does an incarcerated person get help with this petition?
We’ll be creating an instruction booklet and holding trainings inside of prisons soon, as well as trainings on the outside.

Can you review my petition for accuracy?
We are not a law firm and cannot answer questions about individual cases. We hope that the instruction booklet that we are creating will be helpful. If a case is not yet final (i.e if a person is still in the Superior Court or on appeal), please consult your attorney.

Where can I find updates or more information about the petition process?
You can join our Facebook Advocacy Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/restoreadvocates and/or email sb1437@restorecal.org to be added to a listserve specifically for petition updates.

Eligibility

Please note: Being “eligible” to file a resentencing petition is not the same as being entitled to a favorable outcome. It is just the first step toward asking for relief.

Who is eligible for resentencing under SB 1437?

  1. Those who were convicted under the first degree felony murder rule if they
    did not kill;
    did not intend to kill;
    And did not act as a major participant in the felony with reckless indifference to human life.

  2. Those who were convicted as an accomplice to a “target” crime under the second degree natural and probable consequences doctrine and who did not kill or act with malice in the killing.

  3. Those who were convicted of second degree felony murder.

Does SB 1437 provide relief for those serving life without the possibility of parole (LWOP)?
Yes, in some circumstances. People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal. 4th 788 and People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal. 4th 522 and cases that came after that limited who is a “major participant” and who acted with “reckless indifference to human life.” A later case said that those who had LWOP based on Penal Code Section 190.2(d) could file writs of habeas corpus for relief under Banks/Clark and have the opportunity to remove the Penal Code 190.2(d) special circumstance. This would mean the LWOP sentence would become 25 years to life.

SB 1437 has a provision that says “If there was a prior finding by a court or jury that the petitioner did not act with reckless indifference to human life or was not a major participant in the felony, the court shall vacate the petitioner’s conviction and resentence the petitioner.”

Banks relief is one kind of a “prior finding.” Thus, a person who has received a favorable determination on his or her Banks petition could now petition the court for resentencing under SB 1437.

Using this case law, you and your counsel may want to discuss if the evidence in your case would support filing a Banks petition.

If a person has accepted a plea deal to a non-murder charge, i.e. voluntary manslaughter, but fits all other criteria of the bill, are they eligible for relief?

The first sentence of 1170.95 provides for resentencing for those who were convicted of murder -- whether by trial or plea -- not of a lesser charge. However, we encourage you to consult with an attorney to see if there are other ways in which the plea could be challenged.




WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

Sign up for our mailing list to get updates
about our programs.