How to Win an AB 2942 Application

Aaron Spolin

AB 2942 Attorney Aaron Spolin shares strategies for fighting and winning these types of applications.

The attorneys at Spolin Law use the following strategy in an effort to win AB 2942 applications for worthy clients:

1. Explain Positive Character of Inmate:
The heart of AB 2942 is an opportunity for inmates to be released if they show themselves to be morally worthy of freedom. Therefore, when preparing an AB 2942 petition, the attorneys at Spolin Law will attempt to learn everything positive about an inmate’s character to present a strong case. A person’s character can be demonstrated in great part from all the positive activities they’ve done in the prison, including educational programs, rehabilitative classes, and their general behavior in the prison. Also important is the underlying character of the person. What do family and friends have to say about this person’s honesty, loyalty, kindness, and other positive character traits? Finally: will this person be able to reintegrate in society? Having housing and a job lined up will help make an even stronger case that society would benefit from this person’s release.

2. Highlight Relevant Policy Changes in DA’s Office
(example: George Gascon)
Whenever a new district attorney is elected, he or she will make changes in the DA’s Office policy. Therefore, the greatest opportunity for an AB 2942 resentencing is when the current DA is different from the old DA in office when the inmate was first convicted. An example of policy changes would be the sweeping reforms carried out by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon. He has turned the DA’s Office upside-down with his wide-ranging sentencing reforms, and, in Special Directive 20-14, he has promised to resentence thousands of inmates whose original sentence was inconsistent with his new reforms. As AB 2942 attorney Aaron Spolin noted on a recent case: “We want to show how our client is exactly the type of person Mr. Gascon was thinking about when he made his changes.”

Contact one of the attorneys to speak about how these strategies may apply to your case. We are available at (866) 716-2805

  1. How to Win an AB 2942 Application
  2. What is AB 2942?
  3. Examples of Successful Cases
  4. The Process for the AB 2942 Application
  5. The Importance of Your Attorney

What is AB 2942?

Governor Jerry Brown

Assembly Bill 2942 (AB 2942) was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown.

Assembly Bill 2942 is a recently-passed law that allows elected District Attorneys to recommend a recall of sentence and resentencing for California inmates.

California AB 2942 revised California Penal Code (PC) Section 1170(d)(1). Under the revised law, elected DAs now have the right to reevaluate past sentences. If the DA determines that the length of the sentence no longer serves the interests of justice, then they may request and support resentencing for that inmate. A DA in the county in which the inmate was sentenced may bring the request to the county court. The court can then deny or allow the request.

If the court agrees to resentence the defendant, it will hold a resentencing hearing. It may provide a new sentence, so long as that term is shorter than the initial sentence.

Throughout this article the term AB 2942 is used to refer to the District Attorney’s power to recommend a recall of sentence and a re-sentencing. Other individuals may also refer to this power as “PC 1170d1” or “PC 1170d,” although that section of the Penal Code has a number of other elements on other topics.

  1. How to Win an AB 2942 Application
  2. What is AB 2942?
  3. Examples of Successful Cases
  4. The Process for the AB 2942 Application
  5. The Importance of Your Attorney

Examples of Successful AB 2942 Cases

District Attorneys throughout the California are using AB 2942 to free inmates.

Example 1: Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen

The below video was created by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen. It talks about how he used AB 2942 to free an inmate who had multiple life sentences and would have died in prison without AB 2942:

Example 2: Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon

Special Directive 20-14

An excerpt from Los Angeles DA George Gascon’s Special Directive 20-14, where he commits to resentencing thousands of inmates who have received sentences over the last few decades.

George Gascon is another elected district attorney who is eager to reduce sentences using the power that was granted by AB 2942.

DA George Gascon has changed a number of policies in his office. He thinks juveniles should only be charged as juveniles, he wants to eliminate various enhancements that lengthen prison sentences (e.g., gang enhancements), and he generally wants inmates to receive “fair“ sentences.

In his now-famous “Special Directive 20-14,” George Gascon promises to apply all of his new policy changes even to inmates that were convicted before Mr. Gascon took office. In other words, he is making all his changes retroactive.

In the quote from the below document, Mr. Gascon makes clear that he wants to resentence cases where inmates’ sentences were inconsistent to the new policies he implemented at midnight on December 8, 2020.

The attorneys at Spolin Law have spoken with many concerned family members who want to know how the local DA’s policy changes may affect their loved one’s case. We are available to speak over the phone and provide free consultations. (866) 716-2805.

  1. How to Win an AB 2942 Application
  2. What is AB 2942?
  3. Examples of Successful Cases
  4. The Process for the AB 2942 Application
  5. The Importance of Your Attorney

The Process of the AB 2942 Application

  • Step 1: Gather information
    The first step in winning an AB 2942 application is to gather information as to why the inmate deserves to win. Gathering information can include an inmate’s educational programs, rehab classes, volunteer work, and other things about the person’s life that show good character. For applications that are based in part or wholly on DA Office policy changes, researching the applicability of the policy changes to the inmate’s case will be essential in gathering the argument as to why the inmate deserves relief.
  • Step 2: Convince District Attorney’s Post-Conviction Unit to Recommend Re-Sentencing
    Different District Attorney Offices have different policies on when and why they will recommend resentencing. But this crucial second step in the process means that the DAs office, or an employee there, has to agree that the inmate deserve some type of lowered sentence. This step is often handled by a post-conviction unit inside the DA’s Office.
  • Step 3: Convince Superior Court Judge to Reduce Sentence
    The Superior Court judge is the final gatekeeper. He or she will decide whether an inmate can be resentenced and exactly what the lowered sentence can be. Generally speaking, if the prosecution and defense agree on something, the judge will often go along with that. But a judge’s agreement cannot be guaranteed or taken for granted. This is yet another reason why skilled representation can be valuable. (See below section, The Importance of Your Attorney).
  1. How to Win an AB 2942 Application
  2. What is AB 2942?
  3. Examples of Successful Cases
  4. The Process for the AB 2942 Application
  5. The Importance of Your Attorney

The Importance of Your Attorney

Attorney Aaron Spolin Discusses a Petition

The award-winning lawyers at Spolin Law P.C. strategize on how to win AB 2942 applications.

While an attorney is not absolutely necessary for an inmate to be released under AB 2942, there are a lot of benefits that come from an experienced attorney guiding your case.

The successful appeals attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. are proactive in trying to win AB 2942 cases. Some of the steps and benefits include:

  1. Representing the Client in Court
    Not all AB 2942 applications will involve court representation. But if the DA agrees to the resentencing, that’s only the first step. Then a judge has to be convinced to actually reduce the sentence. Having a committed, skilled attorney on your side can make the difference between ultimately winning or losing in Superior Court.
  2. Showing the DA’s Office What is Not in the File
    Each DAs office has its own policies. But there’s a lot of material about a client’s life that the DA employees would never find in the original criminal case file. Highlighting an inmate’s character and inner morality is something that takes skill. (See How To Win, above).
  3. Be the Squeaky Wheel
    “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” That’s an old expression about how speaking up for yourself is often better than staying silent. Of course, the DA’s Office does not want to be swimming through hundreds or thousands of AB 2942 applications. But only good things can come from standing out from the crowd, hustling and showing why a resentencing on your case is the true pursuit of justice.

For more information about AB 2942 and other post-conviction options, call the award-winning attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. We can be reached at (866) 716-2805.