Concurrent Sentence vs. Consecutive Sentence California Felony Attorney


If you are not statutorily eligible for probation or probation has been denied, you will be sentenced to prison. If you are convicted of more than one crime, the sentencing court has discretion to sentence you to either a consecutive or a concurrent sentence.

What is a Concurrent Sentence?

Concurrent sentences are multiple sentences served at the same time.  Thus, if you are concurrently sentenced to more than one eight-year sentence, you will only serve a maximum of eight years. This means that you will be released from custody when your longest sentence has elapsed.  If the court does not state whether the sentences will run concurrently or consecutively, the sentences are presumed to run concurrently (PC 669).

Any concurrent sentence you may be required to serve will be reduced by any good time credits you receive while incarcerated. This means you may not be required to serve the entire concurrent sentence if you receive good time credit.

What is a Consecutive Sentence?

If you are found guilty of a felony, and you are either denied or do not qualify for probation, you will be required to serve a concurrent sentence or a consecutive sentence.

You may be required to serve a consecutive or concurrent sentence if you are convicted of a felony in California.

A consecutive sentence means that each sentence must be served individually; when one sentence is over, the other sentence begins. You will be released from prison once each consecutive sentence is served. For example, if you are convicted of two crimes, with consecutive sentences of eight years each, your sentence will be a total of 16 years. It is important to note that the total consecutive sentence will be reduced by any good time credit you may receive while incarcerated.

“Good Time Credit”

Under California Penal Code section 2933, you are entitled to receive “good time credit,” also called “work time credit,” depending on the nature of the crime you were convicted of. Good time credit allows you to serve only part of your entire sentence if you have behaved well during your imprisonment.

Under California Penal Code section 2933(b) you can be awarded credit reductions from your sentence term for every six months of continuous incarceration that you have exhibited good behavior or have complied with certain rehabilitative requirements. In some instances, you may be able to earn enough good time credit to serve only half of your imposed sentence.

If you have been convicted of a violent felony, including rape, first degree burglary, and child molestation, you can receive up to 15% of work credit (PC 2933.1). This means that you must serve 85% of your actual sentence if you have committed a violent felony.

If you have been convicted of murder under California Penal Code section 187, or if you have been previously convicted of two or more felonies you will not be allowed to gain work credit and will be required to serve your entire sentence (PC 2933.2).

Concurrent vs Consecutive Sentences: Which will the Court Impose?

Under California Rules of Court, Rule 4.425(a), the court will consider the following circumstances in determining whether to impose a consecutive or concurrent sentence:

1) Facts relating to the crimes, including whether or not:

  • The crimes and their objectives were predominantly independent of each other;
  • The crimes involved separate acts of violence or threats of violence; or
  • The crimes were committed at different times or separate places, rather than being committed so closely in time and place as to indicate a single period of aberrant behavior.

2) Facts relating to the defendant include:

  • The defendant has engaged in violent conduct that indicates a serious danger to society;
  • The defendant’s prior convictions as an adult or sustained petitions in juvenile delinquency proceedings are numerous or of increasing seriousness;
  • The defendant has served a prior prison term;
  • The defendant was on probation or parole when the crime was committed; and
  • The defendant’s prior performance on probation or parole was unsatisfactory.

In addition to these factors, the court may consider other factors in determining circumstances in aggravation or mitigation (JCR 4.421 and 4.423).

The court can also consider aggravating or mitigating circumstances in determining consecutive or concurrent sentencing subject to certain exceptions (JCR 4.425(b)).

Also, under PC 654, if one act violates multiple laws, you can be convicted for the multiple crimes, but you can only be subject to one sentence for that act (JCR 4.424).

When the court is deciding whether a concurrent or consecutive sentence should be imposed, your criminal defense attorney can help by filing a Statement of Mitigation. The Statement of Mitigation will present evidence to the court that a concurrent sentence, or lesser sentence, is more appropriate in your case. In addition, the court may also look to the probation officer’s report that describes any mitigating or aggravating factors that the probation officer found after investigating the circumstances of your case (PC 1203). The probation officer is required to file the probation report with the court and send the report to both the defense counsel and prosecution nine days prior to your sentencing hearing. The defense and prosecution may then use the report and the information included to file either a Statement of Mitigation or a Statement of Aggravation with the court that argues what sentence is appropriate given the circumstances of your crime.

Why should you hire a Wallin & Klarich felony lawyer if you are facing a felony charge?

The experienced team of felony attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped clients facing felony charges in California for over 30 years.

Let us help you now. Call 1(877) 4-NO-JAIL (466-5245). We will get through this together.

If you are facing a felony charge, it is vital that you contact an experienced defense attorney immediately. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience and can explain the California felony sentencing laws to you. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are committed to helping you get the best possible result in your case, and can help you reduce your jail time sentence. Wallin & Klarich has offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, Torrance, Sherman Oaks,San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina.

Call (877) 4-NO-JAIL (466-5245) today, or fill out our confidential form.

We will get through this together.

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