In California, voters passed Proposition 47 which reduced certain felony
cases (like drug possession) to misdemeanor violations. In today's
Wall Street Journal there is an expose detailing the assembly-line nature
of most criminal courts; where the volume of cases requires swift proceedings
and inevitably impacts the rights of a defendant to justice. In some courts,
district attorneys are simply refusing to charge some defendants with
petty crimes because they neither have the resources nor time to effectively
prosecute the cases. What do all these things have in common?
There is a movement in the criminal justice system to revisit the types
of cases that should be in the system and the most effective (both in
terms of costs and time) means of dispensing justice. Do we really want
prosecutors and judges spending 80% of the available court time handling
petty offenses that often result in no incarceration for defendants? The
answer seems to be “no.” Most citizens want serious offenders
charged with felonies to receive the lion's share of judicial resources.
Going forward, we may see misdemeanors treated as infractions (no jail
and no right to counsel or jury) and some criminal cases diverted from
the system into drug courts or alternative resolution proceedings.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, call the Law Offices
of Karlstrom & Krebs for a
free consultation today!