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Name: People v. Morales
Case #: G051142
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/26/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 8/26/2015: S228030

A Proposition 47 petitioner who has completed a prison term but is still on postrelease community supervision (PRCS) is still “serving a sentence” such that the trial court may impose parole during resentencing. In March 2014, Morales pled guilty to felony possession of drugs and was sentenced to 16 months in state prison. In August 2014, he was released to PRCS for three years. After Proposition 47 passed in November 2014, he petitioned to have his felony conviction reclassified as a misdemeanor. The trial court granted his petition, and imposed one year of parole. Morales appealed, claiming the trial court had no authority to order parole. Held: Parole term affirmed. Proposition 47 makes certain drug and theft-related felonies misdemeanors, unless the defendant is statutorily disqualified for resentencing. Penal Code section 1170.18, provides for two distinct remedies: (1) A person who is “currently serving” a felony sentence, whether by trial or plea, may petition for resentencing and, if resentenced, shall be given credit for time served and be subject to parole for one year following completion of his sentence, unless the court releases the person from parole (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subd. (a), (d)), or (2) A person who has completed his sentence may file an application to have his offense designated as a misdemeanor (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subd. (f)). Here, the Court of Appeal concluded that a person who completed a prison sentence but is still on PRCS is still “serving a sentence” for the felony and thus subject to the parole requirement. Penal Code section 3000, subdivision (a)(1) provides that a prison sentence shall include a period of parole or PRCS. The sentence referred to in section 1170.18, subdivision (a) is the felony sentence, which includes PRCS.

Defendant’s excess custody credits may be applied to reduce his parole term. Morales also argued that his excess custody credits should reduce the parole term. The Court of Appeal agreed. Generally, excess custody credits reduce parole. (In re Sosa (1980) 102 Cal.App.3d 1002.) It must be assumed the voters had this in mind when Proposition 47 was enacted. Excess credits may also reduce fines imposed on the defendant (Pen. Code, § 2900.5, subd. (a)). The case was remanded to the trial court with instructions to recalculate Morales’ parole period in light of his custody credits. [Editor’s Note: The Court disagreed with the decision in People v. Hickman (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 984, which reached the opposite result and concluded Sosa credits do not apply to Prop. 47 parole.]