Senate Bill 1437 (SB 1437) : The BESTT Practices Act

California Senate Bill 1437 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018, marking a pivotal moment for justice reform and communities across the United States.

The bipartisan bill, co-authored by Senators Nancy Skinner (D) and Joel Anderson (R), will now amend California’s felony murder rule, a centuries-old legal doctrine that has held people automatically liable for first-degree murder if a death occurs during the commission of certain felonies, such as a robbery, even if an individual did not intend for a killing to occur or aid the killing in any way. A 2018 survey of California prisons concluded that the felony murder rule, prior to SB 1437, disproportionately impacted youth of color and women. As the law stood, the principles of justice and fairness in our justice system were a cold illusion – but with the passage of this legislation, we took a step forward.

Effective January 2019, SB 1437 will end the practice of sentencing a person who did not commit a homicide, or even have knowledge that a homicide occurred, similarly to someone who committed the homicide. Additionally, law enforcement will now have a powerful tool in their toolbox to help identify who was directly responsible for a murder. In a co-defendant felony murder case, co-defendants who were not the actual killers, who did not aid and abet the killing, or who did not act with reckless indifference to human life will now have an incentive to talk and tell the truth about what happened. SB 1437 creates more proportional and equitable sentencing in California, while serving public safety by holding those harm accountable for their actions.

Useful links

Frequently Asked Questions
Download The Resentencing Petition
Download The Resentencing Guide (English)
Download The Resentencing Guide (Spanish)

Important Contacts

Locate Superior Courts
Locate District Attorneys
Locate Public Defenders
Locate Appellate Projects

Other Resources

Read The Full Bill Here
Download the SB 1437 Fact Sheet
Join Our Facebook Advocacy Group for Updates

The Timeline of SB1437

The Stories of Those Directly Impacted

If He Didn’t Kill Anyone,
Why is it Murder?

Life in Prison:
Felony Murder
The Elkhart 4:
A Burglary Gone Wrong
Ryan Holle:
Serving Life for Providing Car
Tung Nguyen:
Post-Incarceration Under FMR
as a Vietnamese Refugee
Jessica Aguirre:
Fiancé Incarcerated
Under the Felony Murder Rule
Robert Garcia:
Incarcerated as a Juvenile
Under the Felony Murder Rule
Joanne Scheer:
A Mother’s Love – Tony’s Story

Press Coverage


By Alexandra Mallick

My turn: New ‘felony murder’ rule makes system more just

The Marshall Project

Neko Wilson: The First to Receive Relief Pre-Conviction


Man Who Faced Life Sentence Goes Free After New State Law Redefines ‘Felony Murder’

The Appeal

The Cruelty of Felony Murder Laws

SF Gate

Murder convicts hope new California law is their ticket to freedom

Los Angeles Times

California sets new limits on who can be charged with felony murder

The Mercury News

Newly signed criminal justice reforms evoke hope

San Francisco Examiner

SF to review homicide cases after California redefines felony murder

Sacramento Bee

He’s on trial in a murder but didn’t pull the trigger. Could new California law avert a life term?

Rolling Stone

New California Law Could Reduce Hundreds of Felony Murder Sentences

San Francisco Chronicle

California limits who can be charged with murder

Slate & The Appeal

A killer who didn’t kill

Daily Journal

Felony murder bill addresses natural &
probable consequences & promotes justice

Los Angeles Times

California could soon limit who
can be charged with felony murder

San Francisco Chronicle

Bill to overturn California’s murder-accomplice
rule gets Assembly approval


California & Overturning
the Felony Murder Rule

Los Angeles Times

Punish for the crimes they’ve committed,
not for murders they didn’t do

Associated Press

California considers limiting broad
‘felony murder’ law

Sacramento Bee

He’s in jail for a murder he didn’t witness.
A California bill might set him free.

Orange Country Register

It’s time for CA to reform the felony-murder rule.
Pass SB1437.

New York Times & Marshall Project

If He Didn’t Kill Anyone, Why is it Murder?

Los Angeles Time

Activists urge change to law that allows accomplices
in crimes to be sentenced for felony murder

NPR’s KQED Forum

California Bill Seeks to Overturn Rule that
Charges Accomplices with Murder<

NPR’s KPCC – Air Talk

Should CA roll back its ‘felony murder rule’?


New law could mean freedom for several
convicted in the Central Valley


California Accomplices to a Felony
Shouldn’t Be Sentenced Like the Murderer

NPR’s KQED – The California Refort

Not the Killer, But Charged with Murder?
Lawmakers Weigh Changing ‘Felony Murder’ Law

American Bar Association

CA considering end to felony murder rule

KNX 1070

CA Bill Moving Through Legislature Could
Eliminate ‘Felony Murder Rule’

San Quentin News

New CA Youth Offender Bills

The Word on #SB1437

Donate To Help Us Continue Our work

[instagram-feed num=7 cols=7]