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Voters Redefine Criminal PenaltiesThis past election season, California voters considered the controversial Proposition 47.

Instead of jail time, persons without a criminal record who are convicted of certain felonies will have their charges reduced to misdemeanors. Crimes on the list include theft under $950, forgery under $950 and simple possession of most illegal drugs. About 10,000 inmates will be eligible for resentencing under the so-called " Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act," which also provides for the creation of about a $200 million fund (very speculative savings) from the cost savings associated with the measure.

Proposition 47 passed with a little over 58 percent of the vote.

Opponents of the measure claimed that crimes like stealing a gun and possessing a date-rape drug are now like traffic tickets. While the procedure may be similar, the argument is not exactly true, because you can go to jail for a misdemeanor. It's also wrong to dismiss traffic ticket penalties as inconsequential. In fact, many traffic tickets are much more expensive than some of the listed misdemeanors:

If you got a traffic ticket in Tulare County, speak to an attorney right away. A lawyer can quickly identify any defenses you have and use them as leverage to get the fine and/or points reduced, or maybe even get the case thrown out.

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