Los Angeles County Public Defender Ron Brown walked into a Pomona court Wednesday and saw first-hand the impact of California's Proposition 47 — the voter-approved initiative that reduces penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes.
Brown's office had deliberately postponed sentencing for a defendant facing more than a year behind bars for possessing heroin and methamphetamine to the day after Tuesday's election, waiting to see what voters would do.
The gambit worked. The man was sentenced and released from custody with no further jail time, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"They were felonies yesterday. They're misdemeanors today," Brown said. "This is the law now."
Now that the citizens of California have voted to reduce punishments, police agencies, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and even some advocates are scrambling to figure out exactly how it is going to work.
The greatest effect, experts said, would be in drug possession cases, noting that California is now the first state in the nation to downgrade those cases from felonies to misdemeanors. Thousands of felons are now eligible for immediate release from prisons and jails.