Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Calculate "How Much Time I Have Left"

Now you know 50%, 80%, and 85% are important numbers in California sentencing.  How much time an inmate will serve under these numbers varies depending on whether the sentence is served in county jail or state prison.  If a sentence is served in county jail, how much time off for good behavior is given depends on the amount of overcrowding.  Those who have passed through the Los Angeles County jail system are probably very familiar with 10%.  That is how much of a jail sentence one will probably serve in Los Angeles County - 10%.

If I serve a 16 month state prison sentence and I have been in jail for 2 months now, lets answer "How Much Time I Have Left."

Here's how to calculate "How Much Time I Have Left."
1. Start with the number of actual credits already served in custody (beginning from the day arrested on the charge in the same county or from the date when transferred to the County where the charge occurred if in custody in a different county).  In this case - 2 months.
2. Is the sentence a 50% or 80% sentence?  If yes, then the amount of actual credits equals the amount of good conduct credits.  In this case - 2 months.
3. Add the number of actual time credits to the number of good conduct credits.  In this case - 2 months actual + 2 months good conduct credits = 4 months total credits.
4. Subtract the number of TOTAL credits from the prison sentence.  In this case - 16 months minus 4 months total credits = 12 months remaining.
5. Reduce the REMAINING time to be served on the sentence based on whether it's a 50% or 80% sentence.  In this case - If 50% is served, then 50% or 12 months remaining = 6 months LEFT.  If 80% is served, then 12 months remaining X 80% = 9.6 months LEFT.

If I serve a 60 day county jail sentence and I have been in jail for 8 days now, "How Much Time I Have Left?" Answer: 22 days left.
Here's how I obtained that answer following the steps above.
1. 8 days actual credits (Number of actual credits already served)
2. 8 days good conduct credits (County Jail sentences are now reduced by 50%)
3. 8 days actual + 8 days good conduct = 16 days total credits (Add actual credits + good conduct credits)
4. 60 day sentence - 16 total credits = 44 days remaining
5. 44 days x 50% = 22 days left

"How much time will I do?"

"How much time will I ACTUALLY do?" is a question I hear multiple times a day because every client I have asks me that.  I don't blame them because their lives have been uprooted and any plans they had are placed on indefinite hold.  Lawyers always joke how they are bad at math, so that's why they went to law school.  If find in my practice, math is critically important when it comes down to calculating sentences and how much actual time one must serve after good behavior. Since it's so important to my clients, it's critically important to me.

Therefore, calculating how much time a client must serve on any sentence is critical, as well as dispelling many incorrect rumors that constantly float around the jail system about early release.  Because of jail and prison overcrowding, inmates can and have been serving less and less of their sentences, but there are so many rumors floating around the jails about changes in the law regarding sentencing.  In my experience, all the rumors about changes in the law are wrong.  Many people are getting out earlier and earlier than expecting, but it's due to lack of space in the jails and prisons, not because of any change in the law.

These are the 3 numbers that sum up almost all sentences (misdemeanor and felony) in California.
50%.  80%.  85%

50% AKA "Half Time"
On the current state of the law, any person serving a county jail or prison (state or county) commitment serves 50% of any sentence based on good behavior.  For a 6 month jail sentence, a person would serve 3 months actual (3 months off for "good behavior").  The detention facility (jail or prison) could reduce the good conduct credits if an inmate is disciplined.  For a state prison commitment, credits earned on the case in county jail are governed by 50%.

80% AKA "Admitting a Prior Strike"
This applies only to state prison commitments when someone has been convicted of a new felony and a prior strike has been plead or proven (jury found prior strike true after a jury trial or defendant admitted a prior strike as part of a plea agreement).  Admitting a prior strike doubles the state prison sentence for a conviction of a new felony and then a defendant will serve 80% of the sentence (20% off for good behavior).  Credits earned on the case in county jail earn 50% good conduct credits, but an inmate serves 80% of the remaining prison sentence (i.e. remaining prison sentence is reduced by 20%).

85% AKA "85% Strikes"
Regardless of whether a person has a prior strike or not, if a defendant is convicted of certain "strike" offenses (both serious and violent), California law says 85% of the sentence must be served (15% off for good behavior).  The most common of these offenses are robbery (Penal Code Section 211), carjacking (PC 215), residential burglary with person present (PC 459 1st), rape (PC 261(a)), attempted murder (PC 664/187), and most sex offenses committed upon children.  As opposed to 50% and 80% time, any county jail credits earned on this case before going to state prison are not eligible for "half time" good conduct credits.  An inmate must serve 85% of the  entire sentence, whether served in county jail pending trial or plea and state prison after conviction.