Upon his election last fall, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón made rapid and sweeping changes to how criminal justice matters would be handled in the county. Among one of his many changes was the complete elimination of sentencing enhancements, which can be used to dramatically extend prison sentences for repeat offenders and gang members. The move proved extremely controversial within the District Attorney’s office, leading career prosecutors to file litigation against the mandate. Two weeks ago, a Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against the order, allowing prosecutors to seek sentencing enhancements while the litigation is addressed. Gascón indicated he would appeal the ruling.
The ban on sentencing enhancements faced immediate blowback from prosecutors and victims’ advocates. Prior to the litigation, Gascón revised his complete ban to allow for enhancements in certain hate crimes, sexual crimes, financial crimes, crimes against the elderly, and crimes against children. The Superior Court judge ruled that sentencing enhancements filed prior to the ban or were required by law, such as certain three strike enhancements, they cannot be dismissed. According to the Los Angeles Times, the ruling could potentially impact over 10,000 defendants with pending charges that include sentencing enhancements. Gascón is allowed to enact a policy to prevent future filing enhancements not required by law.
The ban on sentencing enhancements, and the injunction against the policy, will not affect most criminal cases brought in Los Angeles County. Regardless of any changes to how Los Angeles County prosecutors pursue criminal cases, the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth will continue to provide a robust defense for our clients. We strive to ensure that the needs of our defense clients are met and their rights are not violated. If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, contact our criminal defense attorneys today. We offer free, no-obligation consultations at 888-517-9888.