In Los Angeles County, a sentence for a misdemeanor can involve one of the following: jail, fines, and various types of community work. At sentencing, the judge will ask the defendant (or his lawyer), if he has any credits. If defendant has credits, it can be used towards the sentence.
Credits are the time a defendant spend in police custody. If the defendant was released prior to going to court, that time he spend under arrest will apply towards the sentence if he or she is convicted. In Los Angeles, any part of a day in custody is usually counted as one day (California Penal Code section 2900.5). So, if the defendant gets arrested at 11 pm and then police decide to release him or her the next day at 3 am, he or she will be entitled to credit of two days. That credit can be used towards fine at a rate of $30.00 per day or towards comunity work at a rate of day per day.
The authority for using credits is found in California Penal Code section 4019(a)(1) that specifically permits credit usage from the time of arrest. Some argue that California Penal Code section 2900.5. contradicts that by stating that: (a) In all felony and misdemeanor convictions …, all days of custody … including days … credited … pursuant to Section 4019, . . . shall be credited upon[the] term of imprisonment … That position is supported by People v. Ravaux (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 914 where Court of Appeals for San Diego (4/1) opined that custody credits are not to be given for merely being in the custody of police and start only from the time defendant is booked into a county jail.
Perhaps section 2900.5 is applicable to state prison commitments only because it is placed by the legislature into Title 1 of Part 3 of the Penal Code which is titled “Imprisonment of Male Prisoners In State Prisons”? Conversely, perhaps section 4019 is the appropriate section to use in misdemeanor sentencing because the legislature placed it in Title 4 of Part 3 of the Penal Code, titling it, “County Jails, Farms, and Camps”. By separating the code sections by titles, the legislature could have intended to treat misdemeanors differently and permit usage of arrest credits.
As a matter of practice however, the courts in Los Angeles are pretty liberal in giving credits for being in custody and will use arrest time as oppose to booking time. But you or your attorney has to bring up this issue, or else forgo the pre-booking custody credits.
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