A man who had two prior felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47 and was subsequently released from custody was arraigned Friday on charges of attempted murder on a peace officer, the Orange County district attorney's office said.
The Orange County Grand Jury on Thursday indicted Jimmy Hoang Truong, 28, of Santa Ana, on numerous felony charges in connection with a November vehicle chase in which he shot at police officers, prosecutors said in a statement. He had two prior convictions for drug-related crimes.
The night of Nov. 7, Santa Ana police officers tried to stop Truong's sedan near Euclid Street and McFadden Avenue after he ignored a stop sign and began leading the officers on a two-hour pursuit in and around Santa Ana, the district attorney's office said in a statement.
During the chase, prosecutors said, Truong fired a gun at the officers following him but didn't strike them. Officers did not return fire, the district attorney's office said.
After officers stopped Truong's vehicle with spike strips, he refused to exit his car and did not surrender for three hours, prosecutors said. He exited his vehicle at 2:40 a.m. Nov. 8 and was immediately arrested.
Orange County District Atty. Tony Rackauckas has publicly criticized Proposition 47, saying it will result in an increase in crime, and he now cites Truong as an example. The landmark 2014 ballot measure downgraded drug possession and some theft charges from felonies to misdemeanors.
Supporters of the law, however, say it is being unfairly scapegoated in these types of cases.
Proposition 47 "did not decriminalize misdemeanor offenses, nor did it take away the ability of law enforcement to hold low-level offenders accountable," retired San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, one of the two named proponents of the initiative, said in a statement.
"Law enforcement can still arrest, detain until their trial and jail for up to a year someone convicted of a misdemeanor offense. If someone breaks the law more than once, that person can be sentenced to multiple years in jail," Lansdowne said.
If that doesn't happen, he said, that's "a failure of the local criminal justice system and not the fault of Proposition 47. The public rightly expects criminal justice officials to use their authority to ensure that people who pose a risk to public safety will be held accountable."
Before the chase, Truong had faced of litany of other charges. He was convicted of felony drug possession in 2012 and 2013, according to Orange County Superior Court records. He was sentenced on Sept. 25, 2013, to 16 months in jail, records show.
On Dec. 2, 2014, both of Truong's felony convictions were reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47. He was not placed on parole, probation or post-release community supervision, the district attorney's office said.
Five months later, on April 3, 2015, Truong was arrested for carrying a switchblade. Three days after that, he was arrested again for possessing a controlled substance. He was charged with misdemeanors in both incidents, the district attorney's office said.
Truong currently faces three felony counts of attempted murder on a peace officer, four felony counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm on peace officers, one felony count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one felony count of evading peace officers while driving recklessly and sentencing enhancements for the use of a firearm.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison, prosecutors said.
Truong, a mechanic, is being held without bail at the Theo Lacy Facility, a maximum-security jail complex in the city of Orange, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.