District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis speaks about human trafficking. State Sen. Marty Block stands behind her. Image courtesy DA’s Office

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office is backing state legislation that would give prosecutors the sole discretion to charge and prosecute infractions in place of many low-level misdemeanors that are currently subject to sentences of less than six months in jail.

SB 617, authored by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, would hold offenders accountable while avoiding the costs associated with protracted court involvement — jury trials, attorney representation, confinement and probation involvement — because it does not apply to infractions, according to its supporters.

Cases that involve firearms, sex-offender registration, child abuse, elder abuse, DUI, domestic violence and sex offenses would not be eligible.

SB 617 is consistent with the goals of AB 109 (Public Safety Realignment) and Proposition 47, according to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

“This bill ensures that only those offenders who belong in the criminal justice system are introduced to it and steers minor offenders away from the system and the stigma associated with it,” Dumanis said. “By alternatively charging infractions, minor offenders will still be held accountable for their actions but taxpayers won’t be paying for costly jury trials.”

— City News Service

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