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LA District Attorney Special Directive 20-14

On December 7th, 2020, newly elected LA District Attorney George Gascón implemented a series of special directives. Among these was special directive 20-14 which makes large changes regarding parole, resentencing, and youth/juvenile programs.

Special Directive 20-14 contains, among others, these changes:

  • Anyone who has served 15 years in prison may be considered for resentencing under the evaluation of the District Attorney’s office
  • All sentence enhancements are to be dismissed from open or pending cases, including resentencing cases
  • Deputy District Attorneys are instructed to withdraw opposition to resentencing in most circumstances
  • Those who have taken a plea deal of manslaughter may be eligible for resentencing (among several other changes to resentencing regarding specific murder charges)
  • The District Attorney’s Office will give priority review to several categories of cases for recall or resentencing
  • The DA’s office will no longer attend parole hearings, and will support granting parole to those who have served their minimum sentence, among others
  • Those who were 17 years or younger when their offense was committed will remain in the youth court and cannot be transferred to adult court

Directive 20-14 is among the most complex of the special directives issued by Gascón so far, and we will explain in much more detail below.

However, if you believe you may be eligible for resentencing under these new directives, contact us at 323-655-5700 as soon as possible for a free consultation. William Kroger has decades of experience working as an LA criminal defense attorney, and, along with the rest of our team here, represents your best option for a successful petition.

Major Changes From Special Directive 20-14

Directive 20-14 covers a broad range of topics; however, we have summarized the most important changes and points covered within. If you wish to view the directive in its entirety, you can do so here.

Resentencing: Eligibility, Length of Sentencing, and More

Resentencing is the main focus of directive 20-14.

The first and largest change to resentencing is the announcement that the District Attorney’s office will consider resentencing for anyone who has already spent 15 years in prison, pending an evaluation.

This means that, regardless of charge or age of conviction, those who have already served 15 years or longer in prison are eligible to be considered for resentencing. That does not mean anyone who has served that long will be resentenced, just that they are eligible to be considered for such a petition.

In addition, all sentence enhancements are to be withdrawn from open or pending cases, including resentencing cases. This is further outlined in Special Directive 20-08, but includes enhancements such as gang involvement or possession of a firearm.

If a Deputy District Attorney believes a defendant is not qualified for resentencing under §1170.95 of the California Penal Code, they must seek approval from the DA in order to refuse resentencing.

The directive also presents several changes to murder charges which include, but are not limited to:

  • Anyone who previously accepted a plea deal instead of a felony murder charge is eligible for resentencing under §95
  • Those convicted of attempted murder under the “natural and probable consequences doctrine” are eligible for resentencing under §95
  • Anyone who was under the age of 25 when they committed the crime is entitled to present mitigation documents at resentencing
  • The DA’s office pledges to highly consider youth, mental illness, impairment, or intoxication when deciding on the “reckless endangerment of human life” pertaining to felony murder charges.

Priority Review of Cases for Resentencing

The District Attorney’s office is performing a priority (expedited) review of resentencing cases for:

  • Those who have already served 15 years or more
  • Those who are 60 years and older
  • Those at high risk of COVID-19 infection and complications
  • Anyone recommended for resentencing by the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations)
  • Criminalized survivors
  • Anyone who was 17 years or younger when the offense was committed, but was tried as an adult

If you belong to any of those groups, you will be given an expedited review for resentencing by the DA’s office.

Changes to Parole and Parole Hearings

The directive outlines three large changes to parole hearings, as well as explicitly stating that the DA’s office is in full support of granting parole in nearly every case.

First, it is now assumed that parole will be granted once a defendant reaches their:

  • Minimum Eligible Parole Date (MEPD)
  • Youth Parole Eligible Date (YEPD)
  • Or, Elderly Parole Date (EPD)

Additionally, the District Attorney’s office will no longer attend parole hearings, and will almost always support the granting of parole—Except in cases where the CDCR determines that the person is at a high risk for committing further offenses, where the DA’s office will remain neutral.

Lastly, the prosecution’s input in parole hearings will now be considered limited. Prosecutors can still provide input, but it will be regarded as of much lower value.

Juvenile Programs and Youth Sentencing

The last major change directive 20-14 makes is to the youth programs.

Starting Dec. 8th, anyone under the age of 17 at the time of their offense cannot be tried as an adult and must remain in the youth courts. Additionally, anyone who is eligible for resentencing under the new directive and was under 17 at the time of their offense is also able to oppose transfer of the case to adult court.

Deputy District Attorneys are now instructed to join the defense when they are attempting to move the case to youth court, and to state the offices’ reasons for such support on the record.

Special Directives 20-14 and How We Can Help

Due to the sudden and unexpected nature of Gascon’s special directives, there is a fair amount of complexity regarding the implementation of these policies.

Because of that, now more than ever you need an experienced LA criminal defense attorney on your side. William Kroger has over two decades of experience working as a defense attorney in LA, and, along with the rest of our trusted legal team here, is your best option for getting a successful resentencing as outlined in these directives.

Contact us as soon as possible at 323-655-5700, or right here online, for a free consultation to discuss your case. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get a resentencing petition together for you.

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