Before January 1, 2019, and the passage of Senate Bill 1437, under the felony-murder rule and the natural and probable consequences doctrine a defendant could be convicted of murder without the prosecutor having to prove malice.
Senate Bill 1437 (effective January 1, 2019) changed the murder law and now prohibits persons from being charged with felony murder if: 1) they were not the actual killer, 2) they did not act with the intent to kill, 3) and they were not a major participant in an underlying felony acting with reckless indifference to human life. It also prohibits a person from being convicted of murder as an aider and abettor under a natural and probable consequences theory.
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Up until January 1, 2022, and the passage of Senate Bill 775, the natural and probable consequence doctrine was applicable to aiding and abetting a target offense that resulted in the crime of attempted murder. Now, a person may no longer be vicariously liable for attempted murder of manslaughter under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. Malice can no longer be imputed to someone who aids and abets a target offense without having the intent to kill.
Senate Bill 775 also prohibits a manslaughter conviction when the prosecutor proceeded under felony-murder or natural and probable consequence theories. It further prohibits a conviction for murder under any theory where malice is imputed to that person based solely on that person’s participation in a crime. Any defendant previously convicted under either of these theories may now petition the court to have their convictions vacated and be re-sentenced accordingly
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Senate Bill 1437 and Senate Bill 775 amended Murder/Attempted Murder Law added Penal Code §1170.95. The adoption of Penal Code §1170.95 gives those who have been convicted of murder, attempted murder, and manslaughter under “natural and probable consequences” theory, the ability to petition their conviction for re-sentencing. You may be eligible to have your conviction vacated or be re-sentenced.
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