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Proposition 47 & California Background Check News

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A ballot measure passed in California on Election Day – Proposition 47 – The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act (Initiative 13-0060) – requires misdemeanor sentences instead of felony sentences for certain drug and property offenses and allows criminal offenders who commit “certain non-serious and non-violent drug and property crimes” to have their felony charges reduced to misdemeanors. To learn more about Proposition 47 – which became law the day after the election on November 5, 2014 – please visit

According to the full text of Proposition 47, the Act “ensures that sentences for people convicted of dangerous crimes like rape, murder, and child molestation are not changed.” Proposition 47 also creates a “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund” from the savings generated from the Act to invest into prevention and support programs in K–12 schools, victim services, and mental health and drug treatment. In addition, Proposition 47 will:

  • Require misdemeanors instead of felonies for non-serious, non-violent crimes like petty theft and drug possession, unless the defendant has prior convictions for specified violent or serious crimes.
  • Authorize consideration of re-sentencing for anyone who is currently serving a sentence for any of the offenses that are now misdemeanors under Proposition 47.
  • Require a thorough review of criminal history and risk assessment of any individuals before re-sentencing to ensure that they do not pose a risk to public safety.

The types of crimes that could possibly be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors under Proposition 47 include:

  • Check Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Petty Theft
  • Possession of Small Amounts of drugs
  • Receiving Stolen Property
  • Shoplifting

Proposition 47 – supported by nearly 60 percent of California voters in the election – is also retroactive for past non-serious and non-violent crimes. A report from Bay Area News Group on the San Jose Mercury News website indicates that following the approval of Proposition 47 “hundreds of inmates walked out of county jails and more than 4,000 held in state prison readied for possible release with reduced sentences for theft or drug crimes.” However, while Proposition 47 is retroactive it is no so automatically since there must be a petition and court hearing first.

Proposition 47 & Employment Background Checks

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a nationwide background check company accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – helps employers stay up to date with the latest news related to employment. The passage of Proposition 47 means more ex-offenders with minor criminal records will be seeking re-entry into the workforce. ESR Founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen recently presented the webinar “Ban the Box – What Employers Need to Know” to show how laws that remove questions about criminal records  from job applications are fast becoming a national standard that will soon affect most employers. To view a recording of this webinar, visit