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Name: People v. Duff
Case #: S153917
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/19/2010

A defendant is subject to limitations on the earning of time credits when he is convicted of both violent felony or murder, even when the sentence for the violent felony or murder is stayed pursuant to Penal Code section 654. In this case and a companion case In re Pope (S160930), the Supreme Court considered the interplay between Penal Code section 654 and both Penal Code sections 2933.1, subdivision (a) and 2933.2, subdivision (a) (time credit limitation statutes). Section 2933.1, subdivision (a) limits the earning of conduct credits to 15% for the defendant convicted of certain qualifying violent felonies. Utilizing language similar to section 2933.1, subdivision (a), section 2933.2, subdivision (a) prohibits persons convicted of murder from earning postsentence worktime credit. (Under subd. (c) of the statute, such persons are prohibited from earning conduct credit for presentence incarceration.) Both sections specify that the restrictions apply notwithstanding any other law. Section 654 prohibits multiple punishment where a single act constitutes the basis for the conviction or where a course of conduct violates more than one statute. When a conviction falls within section 654, the court imposes sentence for the lesser term of imprisonment but stays execution of the sentence. In Pope, petitioner was convicted of both a violent and a non-violent felony, offenses falling within section 654, and because the prison term for the non-violent felony was longer than the violent felony, execution of sentence on the latter was stayed. In Duff, appellant was convicted of second degree murder and assault on a child resulting in death, offenses falling within section 654, and because the term for the murder was shorter, execution was stayed. Duff Pope contended that because they were not actually serving the sentences having time-credit limitations, they were not subject to the limitations. Noting that the time credit statutes used the word “convicted,” the Supreme Court disagreed. Although executions of sentences were stayed in both cases, petitioner and appellant remained convicted, such that they fell within sections 2933.1, subdivison (a) and 2933.2, subdivision (a), the statutes providing an exception to section 654. This interpretation works to implement the intent of the Legislature –- that is, to delay the release of those convicted of violent felonies and murder. (In re Phelon (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 1214 disapproved to the extent it is inconsistent with Pope.)