California governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a measure that will reduce the maximum penalty for misdemeanor convictions from 356 days to 364 days.
This change is expected to significantly reduce the deportation of legal immigrants convicted of certain misdemeanors.
Under federal immigration law, a felony is defined as a crime punishable by 365 days or more. Therefore, certain misdemeanor convictions in California are considered deportable felonies under immigration law if the sentence imposed was 365 days. Additionally, immigration law considers certain crimes for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed to be “crimes of moral turpitude”, which can likewise render immigrants deportable. By reducing the maximum penalty of a misdemeanor conviction by one day, California’s new law will avoid the automatic deportation of legal permanent residents for certain minor offenses.
The measure, SB 1310, was sponsored by state Senator Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, and goes into effect January 1, 2015. The measure follows the example of similar legislation in Washington and Nevada.