About Non-Violent Crimes in California

Changes to Penalties for Non-Violent Crimes 

Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over proposed changes to Proposition 47, the law passed in 2014 that lessened penalties for many non-violent offenses in California.The law could be changed, with penalties increased, or it could be repealed completely. 

With these changes possibly coming and affecting your sentence or potential sentence, let’s review the current status of violent and non-violent misdemeanors and felonies in California.

Legal hammer reminding people of non-violent crimes and their penalties

What is considered a violent crime in California?

A violent crime is any crime that causes harm to another person. Murder, rape, burglary, carjacking, arson, and kidnapping are all considered violent crimes. For the complete list, please see the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation list

Penalties for violent crimes can range from fines to a mark on your record, to extended jail time. 

Most violent crimes are classified as felonies, not misdemeanors

The criminal code can be complicated. To find out the possible implications of a crime and discuss your options with Michael C. MacNeil, an expert criminal defense lawyer, please call our office at (858) 922-7098 or use the convenient contact form

What is considered a non-violent crime in California?

A non-violent offense does not cause harm to another person. Think of crimes like shoplifting, forgery, petty theft, receiving stolen property, and writing bad checks. 

As the law now stands, shoplifting, forgery, and theft of up to $950 are misdemeanors. Anything over that is classified as a felony. 

Are there non-violent felonies?

Yes. Non-violent felonies are serious offenses that do not involve harm to another person or the use of force. The most straightforward definition is any felony that is not listed on the violent felony list from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Some examples of non-violent crimes that are felonies in California include white-collar crimes like money laundering, fraud, and counterfeiting. Also, burglary and theft above $950 are considered felony offenses. 

Some drug offenses, prostitution, DUI, and criminal property damage also are charged as felonies.

Security guards at a grocery store monitoring for theft risk, a sometimes nonviolent crime charge in California

Penalties for Non–Violent Felonies

While non-violent felonies usually do not have the severe penalties that come with violent felonies, there can still be substantial fines and some jail time. The more serious the felony, the greater chance of a longer prison term or higher fine if convicted. 

Proposition 47 addresses non-violent offenses, and the possibility of reduced jail time or reclassification of your crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

If you are facing a felony charge, you need a lawyer with expertise. Michael C. MacNeil has over 20 years of trial experience and will fight for you in court. Call the office at (858) 922-7098 or contact us using our online form.

What Does the Law Say Under Proposition 47?

Proposition 47,reduces the penalties for drug possession and other non-violent crimes. Crimes that would previously have been felony convictions have been reclassified as misdemeanors with lesser penalties.

The basic law concerns three things:

  • Some theft and drug possession crimes considered non-violent have been reclassified as misdemeanors. Things like theft and forgery damages must be $950 or more to be counted as a felony in California.
  • If you are serving time for a felony which is now considered a misdemeanor, you can apply to the court for re-sentencing.
  • If you have already completed your felony sentence, but your crime is now a misdemeanor, you can apply to the court to have your offense reclassified.

Exceptions to the law include people with one or more convictions, mostly sex or violent offenses, or sex offenders who are required to register. The law also states that, despite the reduced sentencing or re-sentencing, no ex-prisoner is allowed to own, possess, or have firearms.

Handshake symbolizing resolution of a California felony or misdemeanor

Time Limit For Re-sentencing and Reclassification of Non-Violent Crimes

If you need your offense reclassified as a misdemeanor from a felony, or want to apply to the court for resentencing, the deadline is November 4, 2022.

We understand that dealing with the court system can be unpleasant and complicated. We will work with you on your felony or misdemeanor case, as well as getting your case re-sentenced or reclassified.

Because the deadline is nearing, our best advice is to contact us at (858) 922-7098 for an informational call.

The time to take advantage of the law may be at an end if it is repealed. So let our office go to work for you while there is still time.

We are also happy to work with you on your misdemeanor or felony charge.


Why do I need a lawyer for re-sentencing and reclassification?

An experienced lawyer can make sure nothing is overlooked in your application, and that it has the best chance of being accepted by the court.

Do I have a chance to get my sentence reduced?

Yes. The deadline is November 4, 2022, so you need to speak with us soon, but we will work to reduce your sentence and/or get it reclassified under the law.

Why should I hire you for a non-violent felony?

You need an expert who knows the ins and outs of court. I may be able to get your charges reduced, but you need someone who is fighting for you against the legal system. You need someone to stand by your side and make the process as painless as possible. Contact us at (858) 922-7098 or use our web form.

About Michael MacNeil

Michael C. MacNeil is a San Diego Family Law and Criminal Defense attorney. With a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law, MacNeil has a solid understanding of our justice system. As a member of the State Bar of California, MacNeal can practice before all courts in the state. MacNeil believes that the law should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status. With over 20 years of experience, Michael C. MacNeil is passionate about the law and will work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for you. Call Mr. MacNeil at 858-922-7098.