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Name: People v. Lynch
Case #: C068476
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/13/2012

Prospective application of the 2011 Realignment Act does not violate equal protection. The Realignment Act, which is prospective and limits its application to defendants sentenced on or after October 1, 2011, provides for changes in the sentencing law, including calculation of presentence time credits and housing for the convicted felon. As a result of its prospective application, a defendant who committed his crime after October 1, 2011, may receive more beneficial credit calculation and housing placement than a defendant who committed his crime prior to October 1, 2011. In this case, the court found no equal protection violation as a result of the disparate treatment. As noted by the court, the defendant who does not receive benefits from the Realignment Act as a result of prospective application has no fundamental liberty interest at stake. The Legislature properly may specify that statutes are prospective and the timing of the effective date of a statute lessening the punishment for a particular offense does not result in a violation of equal protection. Because the Act does not involve fundamental rights or suspect classification, its prospective application is presumptively valid if it is reasonably related to a rational state interest. The deterrent effect of carrying out the original punishment is such an interest. Prospective application can also be justified on the basis of the Legislature’s authority to experiment with various programs related to criminal charges to see if they work before investing totally in the change.