Senate Bill 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

January 2, 2019 was the first day petitions could be submitted. (January 1, 2019 was a court holiday.)

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 re-sentencing under SB 1437. Attorneys may prepare petitions that are not a form.

The Re:Store Justice petition is available online for FREE here.

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.

Upon the submission of the petition, the petitioner will have the opportunity to request counsel.

We created a Guidebook to explain Senate Bill 1437. It is also available in Spanish here. This year, we toured all California State Prisons to teach incarcerated people how to petition for re-sentencing under Senate Bill 1437 and most importantly explain who is eligible to petition.

We are not a law firm and cannot answer questions about individual cases. We hope that the Guidebook is 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.

You can join our Facebook Advocacy Group and/or email sb1437@restorecal.org to be added to a listserve specifically for petition updates.

If you have a direct appeal pending, consult your attorney before taking any action on SB 1437. This is an actively contested issue that is still making its way through the courts but, for now, the courts have generally found that SB 1437 relief is not available on direct appeals of non-final judgments, and that the petition process outlined in Penal Code 1170.95 must happen independently at the trial court level.

Besides that limitation, if you have an eligible, final judgment, you may file for SB 1437 relief at any time.

If you have not yet been convicted, then the new laws will be applied to your case.

So far, the appellate courts that have considered constitutional challenges to SB 1437 have found that it is constitutional. See People v. Cruz (Mar. 18, 2020, No. G057564); People v. Solis (Mar. 18, 2020, No. G057510); People v. Lamoureux (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 241, (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 270; and People v. Superior Court (Gooden) (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 270.

Courts are split on this question. Two appellate decisions so far have decided that the abolition of the natural and probable consequences doctrine extends to attempted murder, while two say that SB 1437 cannot apply to attempted murder. We will follow these cases as they move up to the higher courts for an ultimate decision.

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. So far, the courts have found that SB 1437 does not apply to manslaughter pleas, even if a person was initially facing a murder prosecution under an eligible theory. However, these legal questions remain unresolved, and we encourage you to consult with an attorney to see what your options might be.

Yes, the provisions of SB 1437 have been found to apply to children in the juvenile courts who would be eligible for relief in the criminal court context.

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.

  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.

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.

Join Our Advocacy Group On Facebook
Subscribe To SB 1437 Updates
Return To Sb 1437 Main Page