Nevada County sheriff, district attorney discuss Prop 47’s affects |

Nevada County sheriff, district attorney discuss Prop 47’s affects

If laws are arrows in a prosecutor’s quiver, Proposition 47 removed a strong weapon used in fighting crime, local authorities said.

Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell said that Prop. 47, which reduced some felony drug charges and other crimes to misdemeanors, stripped a tool from his office that he said helped defendants receive rehabilitation.

Its November 2014 passage means many defendants, now facing only misdemeanors, don’t receive additional resources and a better chance at rehab, Newell said.

“They’re either getting citations or kicked out the door,” Sheriff Keith Royal said. “There’s your revolving door.”

“They’re either getting citations or kicked out the door. There’s your revolving door.”

— Sheriff Keith Royal on impact of Proposition 47

Newell, however, isn’t completely opposed to Prop. 47. He said some drug cases should never rise to the threshold of a felony. However, the hit to his quiver hurt his effectiveness.

“When you lose any leverage, it’s not good from a prosecutor’s perspective,” Newell said.

According to Newell, charging someone with a felony shuttles them into supervised probation. That provides defendants with a level of supervision they don’t receive with a misdemeanor conviction.

The county’s top prosecutor said he’s found ways to get defendants into rehab despite the loss of certain felony charges. Someone with several misdemeanor convictions, instead of being offered a short jail sentence as a plea deal, might be given six months or a year. If that person can enter a treatment program, Newell allows one day of credit for each day in jail, effectively reducing the time spent behind bars.

“It’s always best when you can divert them from the system at some point,” Newell said.

Prop. 47 affected several crimes, Royal said.

Shoplifting items over $400 in value was a felony before Prop. 47. Now the items must exceed $950, the same amount for grand theft, the sheriff said.

Newell said that possession of heroin and cocaine also once were felonies. That’s no longer the case.

“Forgery used to be a felony,” Royal added. “Now it has to be over $950.”

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User