Convicted under felony murder rule? How to reduce your sentence

SB 1437 felony murder rule re-sentencing

In January 2019, Senate Bill 1437 became law. This bill ended the practice of sentencing participants in a felony resulting in a death as if they were the actual killer. Now, co-defendants who were NOT the actual killers, who did not aid and abet in the kill, or who did not act with reckless indifference to human life will now be sentenced for what they did. The new law is retroactive.

What does this mean for people currently incarcerated under the felony murder rule? If you were not the actual killer, a major participant, did not act with reckless indifference to human life, and the victim is not a member of law enforcement, you can be re-sentenced under California law based on what you did. This means that a person involved in a drug deal that results in death can now be re-sentenced on the drug charges.

The point of SB 1437 is more proportional and equitable sentencing in California. To that end, people convicted under the old law may file a petition under Cal. Pen. Code 1170.95 for re-sentencing. This applies whether you took a plea or were convicted after a trial. Once the petition for re-sentencing is accepted by the court, the district attorney will respond, and a hearing or hearings will be held, in order to determine eligibility.

Initially, district attorney’s offices were objecting to the re-sentencing petitions on the grounds that the passage of SB 1437 was unconstitutional. This issue has recently been resolved. See People v. Cruz (Mar. 18, 2020, No. G057564); People v. Solis (Mar. 18, 2020, No. G057510); People v. Lamoureux (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 241, (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 270; and People v. Superior Court (Gooden) (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 270.

If you have a conviction under the felony murder rule that you think qualifies you for re-sentencing under Cal. Pen. Code 1170.95, call Mugridge Law Firm for a free consultation.


The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a substitute for your own legal research. If you have questions, Mugridge Law Firm offers free consultations. Call us at 559.840.0020 or email us at [email protected]