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Special Directive 20-08: Removal of Enhancements

Among the special directives released by newly elected LA District Attorney George Gascon on Dec. 7th, 2020, Directive 20-08 deals with several changes to the so called “sentence enhancements.”

Special Directive 20-08 primarily calls for the removal of most sentence enhancements in open cases, as well as cases which were sentenced within 120 days of Dec. 8th, 2020, which are eligible for resentencing.

Enhancements which are to be removed include, but are not limited to:

  • Any and all prior strike enhancements, including from juvenile proceedings
  • Any “3 or 5 year prior” enhancements
  • Any gang enhancements, including those from the STEP Act

In addition, it also:

  • Prohibits “Special Circumstances” allegations which would result in a “Life Without Parole” LWOP sentence
  • Prohibits any violations of bail or O.R. to be filed as part of a new offense
  • Makes probation the default offer, except in special cases approved by the bureau director. If probation is not available, then the lowest prison term of the charge is to be applied.

The new special directives can be confusing, but we will explain in further detail below.

However, if you believe you are eligible for resentencing underneath this new directive, contact us immediately at 323-655-5700 or right here online for a free consultation. William Kroger has decades of experience as a trusted LA criminal defense attorney, and, along with the rest of our legal team here, represents your best chance for a good outcome.

Update: Some Enhancements may Still be Applied

As of Dec. 19th, 2020, Gascon has made amendments to this directive which specify cases under which certain sentence enhancements may still be applied.

The following charges may still receive enhancements or alternative sentencing schemes:

    Hate Crimes
  • Elder and/or Dependent Abuse
  • Child Physical Abuse
  • Child and Adult Sexual Abuse
  • Human Sex Trafficking
  • Financial Crime, if the crime included a substantial financial loss or affected “vulnerable victim population”
  • Any case not listed above, where:
    • There is extensive physical injury to the victim;
    • Or, any deadly or dangerous weapon was used in a way that presented an “extreme and immediate threat to human life”;
    • And, the sentence enhancement receives written approval from the Bureau Director

Update Changes to Parole and Probation

In addition to outlining circumstance where enhancements may be applied, the update also lists several areas where probation may not be the presumptive offer, including:

  • If a charge is probation eligible, but “extraordinary circumstances” exist, the Deputy District Attorney can recommend a state prison sentence instead of probation so long as they receive written approval from the Bureau Director;
  • Or, if the defendant would have previously been charged with an enhancement which would have made them ineligible for probation, the Deputy DA may recommend a prison sentence in accordance with the same procedure above.

Directive 20-08: No More Sentence Enhancements

The primary feature of directive 20-08 is the removal of most so called “sentence enhancements.”

While the directive applies to most enhancements, it specifically lists the most common enhancements which are no longer to be used in sentencing, including:

  • Any enhancements for prior charges
  • Any enhancements given for “5” or “3 year prior” offenses
  • Gang enhancements, like those outlined in the STEP Act

As of Dec. 8th, 2020, nearly all sentence enhancements are to be dismissed or withdrawn from charging documents in court.

Sentence Enhancements on Sentenced Cases

These changes also apply to a select number of cases which have already been sentenced.

If you were sentenced within 120 days of Dec. 8th, 2020, you are eligible for resentencingto remove sentence enhancements from your charge.

In those cases, all Deputy District Attorneys are not allowed to oppose any defense counsel’s request for resentencing.

Additional Changes to Probation and Parole

Special Directive 20-08 also contains three other important changes.

First, any “Special Circumstances” allegations which would result in a lifetime sentence without parole are to be removed from the charging document. This is in an attempt to prevent any life sentences wherein a defendant is not given any other recourse than life in prison. Such allegations cannot be used for sentencing.

Second, any violations of bail or O.R. release cannot be filed as part of any new offense. This applies even to resentencing cases. Bail violations or failure to appear after signing an O.R. agreement can no longer be rolled into the charges for new offenses.

Lastly, probation is to be granted so long as the charged offense is probation eligible. Whenever probation is an option, the DA’s office assumes that this should be the outcome, as long as there are no extraordinary circumstances which would warrant a stay in prison.

Additionally, if the charge is not eligible for probation, then it is assumed that the defendant will only be given the lowest prison term available for that charge—again barring special circumstances, which must be approved by the bureau director.

Resentencing for Sentence Enhancements in LA: How We Can Help

Given that these new special directives are large changes to procedure, you need an experienced LA criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the resentencing.

William Kroger has over two decades of experience defending against charges of all types here in LA. He and the rest of our trusted team have a long track record for successful defenses. We are your best option for a positive outcome from your resentencing.

Call us as soon as possible at 323-655-5700, or contact us right here online, for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get moving on your new defense.

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