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Prop 47 to Boost L.A. Attorney's Workload By an Estimated 17 Percent

The L.A. City Attorney expects its workload to rise 17 percent as a result of Proposition 47, which downgrades many theft and drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Above, Men's Central Jail.
The L.A. City Attorney expects its workload to rise 17 percent as a result of Proposition 47, which downgrades many theft and drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Above, Men's Central Jail. | Photo: Scott Lowe/Flickr/Creative Commons

The City Council's Budget and Finance Committee signaled its support today for the hiring of eight deputy city attorneys and seven law clerks to handle heightened workloads stemming from the recent passage of Proposition 47.

The additional staff would cost $510,482 over seven months. The City Attorney's Office expects its workload to rise by 17 percent as a result of the measure, which downgrades many theft and drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, a category that is handled in Los Angeles by city prosecutors.

Out of the 13,500 new drug and theft-related cases city prosecutors say they'll be reviewing annually, they will likely file about 8,800 cases. An additional 10,000 outstanding warrant cases are also expected to flow to the city, officials with the City Attorney's Office told the committee.

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Los Angeles and San Diego are the only cities affected in this way by the proposition. In other municipalities, misdemeanor cases are handled by district attorneys.

"If ever there was a case to be made for a mid-year budgetary augmentation, this is as important a public safety need (as any), in my opinion," said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the committee.

Proposition 47 requires misdemeanor instead of felony sentences for petty theft, receiving stolen property and forging or writing bad checks when the value or amount involved is $950 or less. It also requires misdemeanor instead of felony sentences for certain drug possession offenses.

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