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Realignment Laws in San Mateo

December 12, 2011

New Sentencing in San Mateo County

Criminal sentences are changing throughout California since S.B. 109, commonly called “Realignment,” has begun to be implemented.  The goal of realignment is to stop sending low-level offenders to prison and to reduce the state prison population.  The plan is to sentence people to jail instead of prison and for county probation departments to supervise people paroled form state prison.

San Mateo County expects that it may have to accommodate up to 300 new inmates over the next year.  San Mateo County jails are overcrowded—125 percent of capacity—so San Mateo County is planning to expand its probation and build a bigger jail.  The county has been criticized for having a costly plan, for under-utilizing incarceration alternatives such as electronic monitoring systems, for being overzealous on detaining low-risk pretrial inmates.

What Realignment May Mean for You

Previously, if you were convicted of a felony where a sentence was imposed then you would serve that time in state prison, and if you were convicted of a misdemeanor then you could be facing time in county jail.  As of October 1, 2011, if you are convicted of a felony you might be able to serve your time in jail instead of prison, as long as you meet the qualifications.  Although some prefer serving time in prison to serving time in jail, if you stay in county jail you may be eligible for early release programs so that the full sentence imposed is not actually served.  There are many qualifications for these county jail felonies, and the rules to determine whether you qualify are quite complicated.  You should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney at the outset to make sure that if you are convicted you get the best sentence you can get.

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