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PC 1170(h) Sentencing

In 2011, California created new felony sentencing law aimed at reducing the inmate population in California's overcrowded prisons. The new law, found at penal code section 1170, allows judges to suspend or split a prison sentence for defendants convicted of certain felonies. PC 1170 also allows some prison sentences to be served in a local county jail, as opposed to a California state prison.

suspended sentence is a prison or jail sentence that is not actually served so long as the defendant successfully completes an alternative sentence of mandatory supervised probation. For example, if the defendant is serving a three year suspended prison sentence then the defendant is not actually in prison; however, if the defendant does not comply with the terms of his out-of-prison sentence, then the court will sentence the defendant to the three year prison sentence that was otherwise suspended.

split sentence is a jail sentence that is allowed to be served partially in jail and partially out of jail on work release or house arrest (electronic monitoring). For example, if the defendant is ordered to serve a sixteen month jail sentence and that sentence is split, then the defendant will only serve eight months in jail and the other eight months may be served out of jail on work release or house arrest. Also, the defendant may have his jail sentenced reduced further for good behavior credits earned while in custody or while serving in a work release program.

To be eligible for the benefits of PC 1170 sentencing, the defendant must not have been convicted of a crime or enhancement that is classified either as a serious offense, a violent offense, or a sexual offense.

serious offense is any crime listed in section 1192.7(c) of the penal code. More information on 1192.7 crimes, including sentencing for PC 1192.7 crimes, may be found at serious felonies.

violent offense is any crime listed in section 667.5 of the penal code. More information on PC 667.5 crimes, including sentencing for PC 667.5 crimes, may be found at violent felonies.

sex offense is any crime listed in section 290(c) of the penal code. For a list of PC 290(c) sex offense crimes please see Sex Offender Registration.

Note: If the defendant has previously suffered a serious, violent, or sex offense conviction, then the defendant must serve his incarceration in a state prison despite the fact that the defendant's current offense might otherwise be eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing. Also, the court maintains authority to deny a suspended sentence if denial would be in the best interest of justice.

PC 1170(h) Eligible Crimes (Partial List)

  • Animal Cruelty….. PC 597(a)

  • Welfare Fraud….. WI 10980(c)

  • DUI Boating w/injury…..HN 665(f)

  • Vandalism….. PC 594(a)

  • Vehicle Theft….. VC 10851(a)

  • Statutory Rape….. PC 261.5(c)

  • False Compartment….. HS 11366.8

  • Accessory After the Fact….. PC 32

  • Resisting an Executive Officer….. PC 69

  • Perjury….. PC 118a & 118(a)

  • False Imprisonment….. PC 236, 237

  • Theft from Elder….. PC 368

  • Hate Crime….. PC 422.7

  • Comm. Burglary….. PC 459

  • Counterfeiting….. PC 477

  • Theft….. PC 484(a)

  • Grand Theft Auto….. PC 487(d)(1)

  • Receive Stolen Properly….. PC 496(a)

  • Embezzlement….. PC 503

  • Extortion….. PC 520

  • False Personation….. PC 529

  • Identity Theft….. PC 530.5

  • False Pretenses….. PC 532

  • Insurance Fraud….. PC 550

  • Trespass w/injury….. PC 601(a)

  • Own a Chop Shop….. VC 10801

  • Speed Contest….. VC 23109(a)

  • DUI w/3Priors….. VC 23152

  • Owning Attack Dog….. PC 399.5(a)

Probation & PC 1170(h): Defendants that are convicted of crimes that are not covered by the sentencing benefits of PC 1170(h) might nevertheless be eligible for a probation sentence. A probation sentence is a period of supervision in lieu of a jail or prison sentence. For example, the crime of criminal threats is considered a serious offense (PC 1192.7). Therefore, if a defendant is ordered to be incarcerated after a conviction for the crime of criminal threats, he must serve his sentence in a state prison and the defendant may not have that prison sentence suspended or split. However, a conviction for the crime of criminal threats is eligible for a probation sentences despite the fact that it is not a crime covered under PC 1170(h) sentencing. Therefore, a defendant may be eligible for a probation sentence, as opposed to a prison sentence, upon a conviction for the crime of criminal threats. Be aware that not all crimes are eligible for probation sentences.

Note: This above list represents only a partial list of common crimes that are eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing. There are simply too many crimes eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing to be listed here, including dozens of firearm, theft, and drug crimes. Also, some crimes listed above have closely related crimes that do not qualify for PC 1170(h) sentencing. For example, the crime of extortion (PC 520) is eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing, but the crime of gang related extortion (also charged under PC 520) is not eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing. Finally, a criminal charge might be eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing but a criminal enhancement, which is added to the criminal charge, precludes the defendant from receiving the benefits of PC 1170(h) sentencing (if the enhancement is classified as a serious or violent enhancement).

To learn more about suspended sentences, split sentences, PC 1170 law, probation sentences, or whether a crime is eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation.


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