California

Eyewitness Identification Reform

State statute requires that, starting January 1st 2020, all law enforcement agencies and prosecutorial entities must adopt regulations for conducting eyewitness identification procedures that include: blind/blinded administration, proper witness instructions, proper fillers, witness confidence statements, and recording of the procedure. Effective: 2020.

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Recording of Interrogations

State law requires that custodial interrogations of all homicide suspects be recorded in their entirety. Effective: 2013; Amended most recently: 2016.

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Post Conviction DNA Testing

Any convicted felon who is currently serving a prison term may file for post-conviction DNA testing with the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction. Effective: 2000; Amended most recently: 2014.

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New Non-DNA Evidence & Changes in Science

State statute allows a person to apply for a writ of habeas corpus based on the use of false evidence in a conviction, including scientific or technological advancements and expert recantations that undermine forensic evidence used in a conviction. Effective: 2015.

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Exoneree Compensation

State statute provides exonerees with a maximum of $140 per day of wrongful incarceration, including any time spent in custody prior to incarceration. Exonerees are also provided with housing assistance, job training, and mental health services. Transitional services must be offered to exonerees within the first week of exoneration and again within the first 30 days of exoneration, as well as $1,000 upon their release. The claimant must show they did not "[plead] guilty with the specific intent to protect another from prosecution for the underlying conviction for which the claimant is seeking compensation." Effective: 1941; Amended most recently: 2021.

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Read the most recent amendments (2021)

Evidence Preservation

State statute requires the automatic preservation of biological evidence related to all criminal cases for the length of an individual’s incarceration. Effective: 2000; Amended most recently: 2014.

California's statute meets the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.

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In-Custody Informants

State statute requires a jury instruction to be given when jailhouse informant witness testimony is going to be used at trial. The instruction directs jurors to assess the jailhouse informant’s testimony with greater scrutiny and specifically consider the extent to which the testimony may have been influenced by the receipt or expectation of any benefits. Effective: 1989; Updated most recently: 2016.

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