Prop 47 Erased Close to 200,000 Felonies but Not Everyone Knows

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You might not realize it, but most “nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes” can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor under Prop 47. This is the case unless the person has prior convictions for rape and murder. Certain sex offense and drug crimes also prevent people from benefiting from Prop 47 felony reduction.

As of September, close to 200,000 felonies were reclassified under the proposition. However, lots of people don’t realize their felonies have been reduced. It’s important to understand the process so you’ll know where you stand.

FELONY CHARGESSan Diego County Residents in the Dark

A Prop 47 felony reduction gives people more opportunities than ever before. They can apply for and get jobs they couldn’t get with a felony on their records, and they can also take part in certain freedoms that are only granted to non-felons.

There’s a big problem in San Diego County though. Lots of people don’t realize their felonies have been reduced to misdemeanors, so they’re still experiencing the ramifications of having a felony on their records.

The public defender’s office has been filing felony reduction paperwork on the behalf of felons, but in many cases, the felons have not been notified. The public defender’s office has been classified as “overzealous” in its filings, which has led to a great deal of disorganization.

As of June 2017, it had filed 45,000 petitions, but almost 20,000 of them were ineligible or redundant. The office failed to take the time to properly vet the applications, and it’s led to a lot of confusion. Now, people with felony convictions don’t know where they stand.

An Important Change

The San Diego Public Defender’s Office learned from its mistakes. Now, it doesn’t send in paperwork unless requested by a defendant. This isn’t true in other parts of the state though. Some counties are still filling petitions on the behalf of felons without notifying them.

Passing Rate for Prop 47

When you look at all of the denied petitions in San Diego County, you might be a little reluctant to file for a Prop 47 felony reduction. However, that had more to do with disorganization than the power of the law. Counties have an average passing rate of 71 percent, so the vast majority of petitions are approved. That means the vast majority of applicants are on track to getting their lives back.

Get Help for a Prop 47 Felony Reduction

Prop 47 gives felons a new lease on life, but they need to petition the courts properly. If you are a felon, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer. Your lawyer can prepare the paperwork and file it on your behalf. Your attorney can even help you reduce more than one felony. All filings must be received by September of 2022, and there is no reason to wait. The sooner you get the felony off your record, the sooner you’ll get your life back. You can finally enjoy the opportunities you lost when you ended up with a felony on your record.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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