Want To Knock Your Nonviolent Felony Down To A Misdemeanor? SF’s Public Defender Has A Hotline For That

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi today announced an information line available to clients who may be eligible for free help to have their nonviolent felonies reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47, which was passed in the Nov. 4 election.

The phone line at (415) 553-9344 is available for former clients seeking relief under the new law, which reduces many common nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors, or for those who may have questions about their eligibility.

Since the state’s voters approved Proposition 47 two weeks ago, 30 of the public defender’s clients have had their nonviolent felonies reduced to misdemeanors. An additional 370 on probation and about 2,000 who have already served their sentences are also eligible, according to the public defender’s office.

“Felony convictions are serious obstacles when it comes to obtaining jobs, housing, even financial aid for college, so it is imperative that eligible individuals have them reduced as soon as possible,” Adachi said in a statement.

Proposition 47, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014, was a voter initiative that passed with 59.3 percent of the vote. The financial savings from the law will be rerouted to K-12 schools, mental health treatment and victim services, according to the public defender’s office.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón was also a proponent of the new law.

Critics of the new law said it could potentially release 10,000 felons from state prison, reduce penalties for crimes such as stealing guns and for possession of “date rape” drugs.

Common felonies that qualify for reduction to misdemeanor status under Proposition 47 include theft offenses of less than $950 and drug possession, according to the public defender’s office.

Among those who are ineligible for relief under the new law are convicted sex offenders and those with a criminal record of violent crimes such as kidnapping, assault to commit a sex crime, murder, attempted murder, solicitation of murder and possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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