New Criminal Law Reforms in the California Legislature
California is continuing its trend toward progressive criminal law reform. We have previously covered several of these laws such as police misconduct and sealed records, aimed at protecting suspects and otherwise helping ex-cons reintegrate into society after incarceration. Continue reading for details about several new laws currently under consideration that would offer additional protections for criminal suspects and inmates, and contact a dedicated Ventura criminal defense attorney with any questions or if you are facing criminal charges in California.
California Considers Limiting Police Use of Deadly Force
There are two competing bills advancing through California’s Senate and Assembly that both concern a police officer’s use of deadly force in apprehending a suspect. Under the current law, a police officer can use deadly force, like shooting a fleeing suspect at center mass, whenever a “reasonable officer in the same situation” would do the same. Justifiable homicide includes apprehending a person who has committed a felony and is fleeing or resisting arrest.
AB 392 would change the standard to limit officers to using deadly force only when the killing is in self-defense or the defense of another or is necessary to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon whose apprehension is necessary to prevent death or serious injury. The bill passed the Assembly committee on Public Safety and is making its way through the Assembly.
A competing bill in the state Senate, SB 230, would keep the standard for use of deadly force the same but would instead expand officer training and update departmental policies regarding the use of deadly force. The Senate’s bill also passed its initial committee and is set for another hearing on May 13.
Restoration of In-Person Visitation Rights
A 2011 federal court ordered that California needed to take steps to mitigate its overcrowded prison population. The state’s approach involved transferring thousands of inmates from state prisons to county jails. Many of those jails stopped offering inmates in-person visitation from friends and family, instead limiting them to video chat visits that the inmates must pay for. Assembly Bill 984 would require all county jails and local detention centers to provide in-person visitation.