California Proposition 115, the "Crime Victims Justice Reform Act" (1990)
Proposition 115 made a number of significant and complex changes in California criminal law and in the procedures that judges are required to follow in criminal cases.
Some of its specific provisions were:
- Criminal defendants in California are not to have greater constitutional rights than those afforded under the U.S. Constitution.
- The definition of first-degree murder was expanded to include additional circumstances.
- The crime of torture was established and defined.
- Preliminary hearings were eliminated for felons whose indictments resulted from grand jury proceedings.
- Changed rules affecting the disclosure of information between prosecuting and defending attorneys in criminal cases.
- Changed the rules governing how jurors are questioned and selected for criminal trials.
- Allowed hearsay evidence under certain circumstances.
- Set provisions for speedy trials in certain criminal cases.
The summary statement of Proposition 115 said, "Amends state Constitution regarding criminal and juvenile cases: affords accused no greater constitutional rights than federal Constitution affords; prohibits post-indictment preliminary hearings; establishes People's right to due process and speedy, public trials; provides reciprocal discovery; allows hearsay in preliminary hearings. Makes statutory changes, including: expands first degree murder definition; increases penalty for specified murders; expands special circumstance murders subject to capital punishment; increases penalty for minors convicted of first degree murder to life imprisonment without parole; permits probable cause finding based on hearsay; requires court to conduct jury examination. Summary of Legislative Analyst's estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact: The net fiscal effect of this measure is unknown. The measure makes several significant changes to the criminal justice system. How the measure will be implemented and interpreted is unknown. There may be only a minor fiscal impact on state and local governments, or there may be a major fiscal impact."
The successful passage of Proposition 115 amended the California Constitution in these ways:
- Added Section 14.1 to Article I.
- Amended Section 24 of Article I.
- Added Section 29 to Article I.
- Added Section 30 to Article I.
The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:
- "The net fiscal effect of this measure is unknown. The measure makes several significant changes to the criminal justice system. How the measure will be implemented and interpreted is unknown. There may be only a minor fiscal impact on state and local governments, or there may be a major fiscal impact."