AB 1950’s probationary term limitations apply retroactively to cases not yet final

People v. Burton (2020) 58 Cal.App.5th Supp. 1, 272 Cal.Rptr.3d 797

The defendant, Julius Dobbs Burton, was convicted of misdemeanor municipal code violations and sentenced to three years of summary probation. He appealed. AB 1950 then passed, which amended Penal Code section 1203a to limit probation to one year in misdemeanors unless the statute specified mandatory minimum probationary periods. (AB 1950 also amended Penal Code section 1203.1, limiting probation terms in felony cases to two years with some exceptions.) The amendment became effective January 1, 2021, while Burton’s appeal was still pending.

Relying on the California Supreme Court’s opinion in In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, the Los Angeles County Appellate Division held that because Burton’s appeal was not yet final, the new law limiting the period of probation applied to his case. The court wrote: “We hold here that amendments to Penal Code section 1203a, which generally limit the maximum length of probationary terms for misdemeanor offenses to one year, apply retroactively, to a case which will not become final on appeal as of the January 1, 2021 effective date of the statute.” Burton, supra, at 800. The court remanded the case and ordered that the lower court modify the probation term to one year.

About the Author

Lara J. Gressley

Lara Gressley

Lara Gressley has been an attorney for over two decades. She focuses her practice on criminal defense, DUI defense, and writs and appeals in state and federal court, and has worked on cases before the United States Supreme Court. Lara also lectures lawyers across California on various criminal defense topics.

contact us to start building your defense

We understand that being accused of a crime is one of the most challenging times of your life. Rely on us to advocate for your rights and to give you the defense you deserve.