DA O’Malley asks Governor to Veto Bill that Threatens Public Safety and Victims’ Rights

California Assembly Bill 3234 is a threat to public safety and victim’s rights. It has been rushed through the legislative process without allowing for public comment or careful consideration.

This bill allows for diversion in most misdemeanor criminal prosecutions, even over the objection of the prosecutor and/or the victim in the case. This means that a judge could effectively halt the prosecution of misdemeanor crimes, including extremely serious offenses that pose danger to the community and to victims. This includes crimes that directly affect the safety and well-being of our communities: Driving Under the Influence (DUI)– Misdemeanor DUI w/ injury; Vehicular Manslaughter w/alcohol but without gross negligence; Crimes of Violence – Elder Abuse; Child Abuse; Assault by Means of Force Likely to Cause Great Bodily Injury; Misdemeanor Hate Crimes; Firearms Offenses – Carrying a Concealed Firearm; Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public; Bringing a Deadly Weapon to a Courthouse, or State or Local Public Building; Possession of a Firearm in a School Zone and Dissuading a Witness or Crime Victim from reporting a crime or testifying and Criminal Threats.

“The District Attorney’s Office has long supported diversion and other alternatives to prosecution under appropriate circumstances. We continue to agree with the court and the defense in allowing diversion when it is reasonable given the facts of the case and in consideration of the rights of the victim,” states DA O’Malley. “This bill, however, goes too far in diverting very serious criminal conduct out of the justice system over the objection of the prosecutor and without the agreement of the victim.”

The California Constitution guarantees that crime victims will receive restitution owed them. However, this bill gives a judge the ability to grant diversion for a variety of crimes, and without a conviction restitution cannot be ordered or collected—effectively denying a victim his or her constitutional right to restitution.

This bill also applies to repeat offenders and violent offenders. New offenses, including felonies, will no longer be able to allege prior diverted charges including Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and DUI with prior, including felonies with four priors. In addition to wholesale changes in misdemeanor diversion, AB 3234 also reduces eligibility for “elder parole” from age 60 to age 50, including for those convicted of most murders and 290 offenses (registerable sex offenses).

We join Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and others in asking Governor Newsom to veto the Bill. Please make your voice heard too! To lodge your concern, call the Governor’s office at (916) 445-2841 or write to the Governor at https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/

Posted on Sep 16, 2020