December 22, 2011

Realignment AB 109 in California Makes Sweeping Changes and Prompts Controversy

The trial of Dr. Conrad Murray for the death of Michael Jackson created a firestorm of speculation and debate among the general public.

But among the California law enforcement community, the sentencing phase of the trial generated its own controversies. The reason is Realignment AB 109 in California, a sweeping new criminal justice law that amends over 500 felony statutes to provide for jail instead of state prison.

Realignment AB 109 also implements a new kind of felony sentence called “mandatory supervision” that resembles felony probation. Further, the law makes changes to the way certain offenders are supervised when they are released from state prison.

One of the many statutes amended by Realignment AB 109 in California is the involuntary manslaughter statute under which Dr. Murray was convicted. Because Dr. Murray was sentenced after the law took effect on October 1, 2011, he could receive at most four years in county jail (which he did, in fact, receive).

If he had been sentenced prior to Realignment AB 109 in California, Dr. Murray could have received up to four years in California state prison instead of county jail.

Realignment AB 109 in California may have generated controversy and second thoughts in the context of the Michael Jackson case. But advocates of the law are optimistic it will lead to the kind of community-based, creative sentencing that can foster genuine rehabilitation and reduced recidivism in a way that a “lock ‘em up in state prison and throw away the key” cannot.

December 7, 2011

Felony Probation in California as an Alternative to State Prison

Perhaps the most dreaded consequence of a felony charge in California is the prospect of spending time in California state prison.

But the good news is that for many kinds of felonies there are options besides state prison. One of those options is felony probation in California, which means the defendant gets to serve his or her sentence outside of custody.

Generally speaking, people convicted of felonies may be eligible for felony probation in California if they have no history of committing a violent, serious or sex crime, and if the current offense is not of that nature. The judge makes the final decision as to whether to grant felony probation instead of prison, but the judge gets input on the issue from the department of probation.

Some factors judges look at in deciding whether to place a defendant on felony probation in California include the seriousness of the crime, the amount of loss to the victim, the defendant’s criminal record (including as a juvenile) and the degree of sophistication with which the crime was carried out.

Felony probation in California involves conditions such as meeting with your probation officer, paying restitution to the victim, participating in counseling, doing community service and not violating any laws. You might also have to submit to random drug testing as well as warrantless peace officer searches of your person or property.

Our California Criminal Defense Attorneys have secured felony probation in California for countless clients where they may otherwise have had to go to state prison.