On April 15, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he had pardoned 72 ex-convicts and commuted the sentences of seven prisoners. Most of the offenders committed nonviolent drug crimes.
Among those Brown pardoned was a former U.S. military member who was deported to Mexico for firing a weapon at an occupied vehicle or home. The man later founded a support house for fellow deported military veterans in Tijuana. Another pardon was issued to a teenage girl who gave birth in a bathtub and killed her infant. Pardons do not expunge the records of former convicts, but the pardons are added to their public records. State and federal law enforcement agencies are also notified of the change.
Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, has issued a total of 1,330 pardons during his tenure as governor. By comparison, Arnold Schwarzenegger pardoned 15, Gray Davis pardoned none and Pete Wilson pardoned 13. However, Ronald Reagan issued almost 600 pardons. Brown is the longest-serving governor in the history of California.
Defendants convicted of drug possession or other drug crimes could face a lifetime of serious consequences, including lengthy prison terms, heavy fines and a permanent criminal record. However, it may be possible to avoid these penalties by contacting a criminal defense attorney for help. An attorney could scrutinize the evidence and build a strong defense based on the facts of the case. For example, legal counsel may discover that police tampered with evidence or violated a defendant's rights during the arrest process, which could cause the case to be dismissed in court. Even if the evidence in a case is strong, an attorney could negotiate a plea deal that reduces the penalties.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, "California Governor Grants 72 Pardons, Commutes Sentences", Associated Press, April 15, 2017