Realignment in Los Angeles County
Since the enactment of AB109, the statute to realign California's overcrowded
prisons by sending more non-serious, non-violent felons to county jails,
Los Angeles County Superior Courts were using split sentences approximately
five percent of the time. Recently, Los Angeles County is beginning to
use split sentencing as an appealing option in the plea bargaining process.
AB109 is a viable option for those felonies where the prosecution is adamant
about jail time exceeding one year, but the individual is likely to commit
more offenses unless he or she can be supervised on release and assisted
in his or her efforts to reintegrate into society.
Split sentencing is an agreement between the prosecution on the defendant where a defendant
is sentenced to serve a specified amount of time in the county jail and
the remainder of the sentence would be served on post-release mandatory
supervision by the probation department. For example, a defendant may
be sentenced to years in county jail pursuant to
Penal Code section 1170(h). Under split sentencing, the defendant could be sentenced to serve 180
days in the county jail and the remaining 18 months would be served on
post-release supervision by the probation department. Split sentencing
is not available for certain crimes excluded from AB109's list of
crimes, such as crimes designated as "strikes" under the California
Three Strikes Law or crimes requiring registration as a sex offender.
Post-release supervision should not be confused with felony probation.
A defendant that is sentenced to probation does not receive any custody
credit for time that he or she is on probation. For example, a defendant
can be sentenced to probation with a sentence of three years of prison
suspended. But, if that defendant violates probation on the day prior
to the termination of probation, the defendant would have to serve the
three years without any custody credits. However, under split sentencing,
if the defendant violated the post-release conditions, the defendant would
be returned to county jail, but the defendant would receive credit for
the amount of time served on post-release supervision. Thus, felony probation
can have more serious consequences than post-release supervision.
Split sentencing is also an attractive option for those individuals that
suffer from mental health issues or drug addiction. For example, split
sentencing may be a viable alternative for a Defendant diagnosed with
autism spectrum disorder because he or she can receive the necessary help
they need through post-release supervision in order to reintegrate into society.