Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer introduces AB 1618 to Preserve the Integrity of Plea Agreements

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

(Sacramento – June 12, 2019) – Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer (D – South Los Angeles) today introduced AB 1618 which preserves the integrity of agreed upon plea bargains.

“As Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee I am committed to ensuring equal access to the benefits of legislation and propositions that update our criminal justice system,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer.  “The voters, the Governor, and the Legislature have shown time and time again that there is a desire to ensure that our justice system reflects our values of fairness and justice.”

Recently, local prosecutors have begun to draft plea agreements that include waivers of future legislation, even if unknown to all parties at the time the agreement is entered.  Plea bargains are entered into by defendants and prosecutors to provide an expeditious resolution to a case.  In exchange for pleading guilty or providing helpful information to law enforcement, plea agreements are offered by prosecutors to avoid the time and expense of a full trial.  These agreements include agreed upon punishments, accepted by both the prosecutor and the defendant.  These plea agreements have historically been recognized by courts to be subject to change if the state Legislature, or the voters, amend state law.

“We applaud Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer for sponsoring AB 1618 to make it clear that prosecutors cannot enforce plea bargains that thwart the will of California voters and their elected representatives,” said Margo George.  “Recent changes in our laws reflect advances in science about human brain development and evidence based research about the societal effects of mass incarceration.”

“In 2013, the California Supreme Court settled the issue of pre-emptive agreements in plea bargains by stating clearly that parties entering a plea agreement are not insulated from any future legislation,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer.  “I will work closely with my colleagues to clarify the effect of legislation on plea agreement entered into by defendants and prosecutors alike.” 

Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. represents South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, and a portion of Huntington Park. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, Sr., please visit https://a59.asmdc.org/