Senate Bill 620 Relaxes California’s Firearm EnhancementsDecember 12, 2017
Senate Bill 620 Signed into Law
Senate Bill 620 was signed into law on October 11, 2017. The law gives judges the authority to strike or dismiss a firearm enhancement at sentencing. Judges may dismiss or strike enhancements if it is “in the interests of justice.”
What is an Enhancement?
An enhancement adds time to the length of a prison or jail sentence. In the case of firearm enhancements, as much as 25 years to life can be added to a sentence.
California Firearm Enhancements
Additional 3, 4, or 10 years for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony or attempted felony (unless use of a firearm is an element of the felony).
Additional 5, 6, or 10 years for use of an assault weapon or machine gun during the commission of a felony or attempted felony.
Additional 10 years for use of a firearm during the commission of a Specified Felony, even if the firearm is not loaded or operable.
Additional 20 years for discharging a firearm during a Specified Felony.
Additional 25 years to life for causing death or great bodily injury using a firearm.
For a complete list see Penal Code Section 12022.53.
Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 620, judges were required to sentence defendants to additional prison or jail time upon a jury finding that a firearm was used during a felony.
Judges now have the option to strike firearm enhancements if doing so would be in the Interests of Justice.
Interests of Justice
The “Interests of Justice” is whatever a judge determines to be fair and equitable.
A firearm is:
- A device.
- Designed to be used as a weapon.
- Shoots a projectile through a barrel by explosion or other form of combustion.
“Assault weapons” are semiautomatic firearms listed under Penal Code Section 30510, et seq.
Machine guns are any weapon that automatically shoots more than one shot by a single function of the trigger.
Machine guns also includes any parts used in converting a weapon into a machine gun AND guns that are readily convertible to machine guns.