Former Prosecutor. Powerful Defense Advocate. Certified in the Area of Criminal Law

Proposition 47

Misdemeanor & Felony Charges in California

Proposition 47, The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act was passed on November 4, 2014, and became immediately effective that day. The largest effect of Proposition 47 was to make possession of narcotics a Misdemeanor rather than a Felony.

The second-largest effect of Proposition 47 was to make most theft crimes Misdemeanors (rather than Felonies) as long as the amount stolen was less than $950.00.

Specific Drug Law Affected

  • Health and Safety Code Section 11350
  • Health and Safety Code Section 11357
  • Health and Safety Code Section 11377

All the above charges are reduced from Felonies to Misdemeanors under Proposition 47. This includes possession of all street drugs such as Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Heroin, PCP, etc. It also includes possession of prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Soma, Zanax, Morphine, Codeine, etc. without a prescription. Possession for sale and/or transportation of any of these drugs, is still a felony.

Specific Theft Laws Affected

Commercial Burglary

A Burglary is committed when a person enters a building with the intent to commit larceny (theft) or any felony.

California has two types of Burglary, both listed under Penal Code 459. Both are Felonies. The first type of Burglary is "Residential Burglary" (burglary of a home), Proposition 47 did not alter this crime. The second type of Burglary is "Commercial Burglary." Commercial Burglary covers Burglaries of every type of building that is not a home.

Prior to Proposition 47 Commercial Burglary applied even to a person who went into a store during normal business hours intending to shoplift a one dollar item. Proposition 47 changed that by creating an exception to the Commercial Burglary statute. As of November 5, 2014, anyone who goes into an open store, during normal business hours, and steals (or attempts to steal) items of a combined value of less than $950.00 is guilty of the new Misdemeanor crime Shoplifting (and not Commercial Burglary).

Petty Theft with a Prior

Prior to Proposition 47 a person who had been convicted of any felony theft offense, or three prior misdemeanor theft offenses, who was then arrested for ANY theft new theft offense, could be charged with the Felony of "Petty Theft with a Prior" under California Penal Code 666. Proposition 47 basically eliminated the crime of Petty Theft with a Prior Altogether. As of November 5, 2014, the only people who can be convicted of this crime are people who also have a conviction for a strike offense, or who are registered sex offenders.

Other Theft Crimes

With the passage of Proposition 47, all crimes of:

  • Forgery (Penal Code 473)
  • Writing Bad Checks (Penal Code 476)
  • Grand Theft (Penal Code 490.2)
  • Receiving Stolen Property (Penal Code 496)

Are all Misdemeanors unless the total amount stolen at any one time is more than $950.00


Unlike many changes in the law, Proposition 47 took the extraordinary step of making all of the above changes retroactive. Meaning that they can be made to apply to old cases, as well as new ones. What this means is that any person who has a conviction on their record for a felony, if that crime would be a misdemeanor under these new rules, can petition the court to have their record reflect a Misdemeanor rather than a Felony conviction.

What does this mean?

  • Persons In Custody – Persons in Custody may petition the court to have their convictions reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, and to be released from custody. The District Attorney may object, and the judge may deny the petition if they determine that the inmate poses an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.
  • Persons On Probation – Persons on Probation may petition the Court to have their convictions reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, and as a result, to have their felony probation terminated in favor of misdemeanor (informal) probation.
  • Persons with old Convictions – Individuals with old felony convictions, that would be misdemeanors under these new rules, have until November 2017 to file their petitions for resentencing with the court where they were originally convicted. After that date all convictions permanently lock into place, and no petitions for resentencing will be heard.

If you believe that Prop 47 may have an impact on a past or pending conviction, call (559) 377-6627 to schedule a free consultation with our Visalia criminal defense lawyer.

Mr. Hagopian Knows What You Are Going Through, and He Is Committed to Getting You Through This Tough Time.

Request a Free Consultation Today.