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California: State Prisoner Cannot Serve Concurrent Sentence in County Jail
In May 2011, Olivia S. Torres was sentenced to two years in state prison following burglary and forgery convictions in Tulare County.
On October 20, 2011, she pleaded guilty to receiving a stolen motor vehicle in Fresno County and stipulated to a two-year term to run concurrently with the sentence she was already serving. The trial court sentenced Torres to prison despite the fact that, under California’s realignment statute, felons sentenced on or after October 1, 2011 now serve their sentences in county jail instead of prison. That statutory provision applies so long as a defendant is not disqualified by virtue of a current or prior “serious” or “violent” felony conviction, and is not required to register as a sex offender – factors that did not apply to Torres.
The Court of Appeal held that sentencing a felon to state prison for one part of a sentence and to county jail for another part could result in needless confusion and potentially absurd consequences. The appellate court wrote that it would be contrary to legislative intent if Torres ended up serving all or most of her postrelease community supervision period in county jail, and affirmed the trial court’s order that she serve her entire sentence in prison.
The Court of Appeal noted that the California legislature had subsequently passed a bill, Pen. Code, § 669, subd. (d), that provided “express statutory authority” for a concurrent county jail sentence to be served in state prison. See: People v. Torres, 213 Cal. App. 4th 1151 (Cal. App. 5th Dist. 2013).
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