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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

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Felony Sentencing Guidelines in California

By Spodek Law Group | February 14, 2023

Felony Probation in California: An Alternative to Prison

Felony probation, or formal probation, is an alternative to imprisonment in California that allows someone convicted of a felony to serve their sentence under supervision in the community. Our California criminal defense attorneys will explore the ins and outs of felony probation, the possibility of jail or prison time, aggravating and mitigating factors, sentencing hearings, multiple convictions, and supervision.

What is Felony (or Formal) Probation?

Formal probation typically lasts between three and five years, with probationers required to report regularly to a probation officer. In addition to community supervision, other conditions of probation can include paying victim restitution, doing community service, and serving jail time. A judge will weigh several factors in deciding whether to award probation, including the seriousness and circumstances of the crime, whether the defendant was armed, whether the defendant poses a public safety threat, the victim’s vulnerability, and the defendant’s prior record, if any, as an adult or juvenile. If law enforcement arrests a probationer for violating the terms of their probation, the judge may revoke probation and send them to jail or prison for the maximum term, although defendants have the right to contest the revocation in a hearing.

Will a Defendant Face Jail or Prison Time for a Felony?

If a defendant is not awarded probation, they may be sentenced to county jail or state prison, with the length of the term determined by California criminal laws and aggravating and mitigating factors. For example, the California statute on rape, Penal Code 261 PC, prescribes three, six, or eight years in state prison for violations, with a judge looking to aggravating and mitigating factors to determine the most appropriate sentence. A judge will consider factors such as whether the crime involved great violence or bodily injury, if the defendant used a deadly weapon, if the victim was vulnerable, if the defendant has prior convictions, if a minor was involved, and the manner in which the offense was committed. Aggravating factors make an offense appear more serious, while mitigating factors lessen its severity. In general, the greater the number of aggravating factors present, the harsher the sentence, and the greater the number of mitigating factors present, the less severe the sentence.

What Happens at a Sentencing Hearing?

A sentencing hearing is when a judge determines the most appropriate sentence for a crime, with the defense presenting mitigating circumstances and the prosecution presenting aggravating circumstances. If the defense attorney and prosecutor come to a plea bargain, the judge will typically accept the terms. If a defendant is convicted of multiple crimes, they will receive multiple sentence terms, with a judge deciding whether to sentence them to consecutive or concurrent terms. Consecutive terms are served separately, with one sentence beginning after the other ends, while concurrent terms are served at the same time, with a defendant released when the longer of the two terms ends.

What About Supervision?

Supervision refers to a period of time after a defendant is released from jail or prison and can take the form of either parole or post-release community supervision. Parole eligibility and its length depend on the crime and conviction date, with parolees agreeing to abide by certain terms and conditions. Post-release community supervision is probation department supervision for defendants that served a prison sentence in the local county jail.

What is Realignment?

Realignment is a 2011 California law, Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109), that aims to reduce prison overcrowding by diverting people convicted of certain classes of less serious felonies from state prison to local county jails. After realignment, some less serious felonies will result in imprisonment in county jail rather than state prison. However, serious, violent, and sex felonies still result in prison time in California state prison.

At Spodek Law Group, our experienced criminal defense lawyers are well-versed in California’s felony sentencing guidelines and are here to help. We have law offices throughout the state, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and more, and practice in both state and federal courts. We defend against all types of infractions, misdemeanors, and felony offense charges, and we’re here to guide you through every step of the legal process. Contact us today for additional guidance or to discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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