A person convicted of a felony for stealing a car may have that conviction reduced to a misdemeanor if the vehicle was worth no more than $950, the California Supreme Court decided unanimously Thursday.
The decision came in a case interpreting Proposition 47, a 2014 ballot measure that reduced felonies for certain drug and theft crimes to misdemeanors.
Two years before the measure's passage, Timothy Wayne Page was convicted of violating a law that makes taking or driving a vehicle without the owner's consent a felony.
The state's highest court, in a decision written by Justice Leondra R. Kruger, said Proposition 47 allows Page to have his felony vehicle conviction reduced to a misdemeanor if he can show the vehicle's value was $950 or less.
A San Bernardino County judge ordered Page to prison for nearly 11 years for taking the vehicle, resisting an officer and resisting while driving dangerously. The sentence also reflected the fact that Page had prior felonies.
Thursday's decision overturned rulings by lower courts.
Proposition 47 sparked myriad court disputes about exactly which crimes could be considered misdemeanors.
So far, the California Supreme Court has interpreted the measure broadly, citing the wording of the ballot proposal and voters' intent.