We wrote about a piece of California legislation back in August, that would have serious impact on prosecutors throughout the state—especially for those who willingly omit or falsify evidence. The bill AB 1909, proposed by Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, D-San Fernando, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 30, 2016. Any California prosecutor who is found withholding or falsifying evidence can now be charged with a felony and be sentenced to prison time, The Huffington Post reports. Depending on how serious the offense is, prosecutors who are found guilty could be sentenced from 16 months to two or three years in prison.
If you have not been following this story, we can tell you that the legislation is in response to alleged corruption involving Orange County prosecutors and police. Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders accused county prosecutors and police of:
- Violating Defendants’ Rights.
- Illegally Obtaining Evidence
- Withholding Evidence
- Misusing Jail Informants
“A non-trivial number of prosecutors — and sometimes entire prosecutorial offices — engage in misconduct that seriously undermines the fairness of criminal trials,” said Judge Alex Kozinski, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sanders believes that every case over the last 30 years involving a jailhouse informant should be re-examined, according to the article. The stakes are extremely high considering that prosecutorial misconduct has resulted in murderers having their sentences vacated. The goal of the legislation is to deter this kind of behavior in the future. Before the passing of AB 1909, the aforementioned offenses were just a misdemeanor for anyone who omits or falsifies evidence.
“Hopefully, this will provide an additional deterrent against prosecutorial misconduct,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine.
Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.
Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.