New California Law Allows Felons to Avoid State Prison

Recent changes in the California Criminal Codes now allow a defendant in felony case to serve out his or her sentence in the county jail as opposed to state prison. The 2011 Realignment Legislation made significant changes to the sentencing and supervision of persons convicted of felony offenses. AB 109 and AB 117 amended a broad array of statutes concerning where sentences are to be served and how defendants are to be supervised on parole.  The realignment legislation creates a new level of punishment for a certain class of felony offenses. The legislation has not changed the basic rules regarding probation eligibility. Judges retain the discretion to place people on probation, unless otherwise specifically prohibited, under the law that existed prior to the realignment legislation. Realignment comes into play when the court determines that the defendant should not be granted probation, either at the initial sentencing or as a result of a probation violation. In most circumstances it appears that there is no intent to change the basic rules regarding the structure of a felony sentence contained in penal code sections 1170 and 1170.1. Furthermore, there appears to be no change to the length of term or sentencing triad for any crime. The realignment legislation appears only to change where the sentence is to be served.

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