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Name: People v. Rajanayagam
Case #: G046044
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 11/15/2012

Denial of enhanced conduct credits under Penal Code section 4019, effective October 1, 2011, to a defendant who committed his offense prior to October 1, 2011 does not violate equal protection. Appellant was convicted of offenses that occurred on August 20, 2011. He was sentenced on October 31, 2011. The trial court applied section 4019 as it existed on the date of the offense when it awarded appellant presentence conduct credit. On appeal, he contended he was entitled to additional conduct credit under the October 1, 2011 version of section 4019 for his time served in local custody from October 1, 2011 until he was sentenced based on equal protection principles regardless of the offense date. Affirmed. Initially, the court held that appellant was not entitled to the enhanced credits based on rules of statutory construction. The first sentence of Penal Code section 4019, subdivision (h) states that the changes are to be applied prospectively and the conduct credit amendment applies only to those whose crime occurred on or after October 1, 2011. The second sentence provides that any days earned prior to October 1, 2011 shall be calculated at the rate required by prior law and arguably implies that days earned after October 1, 2011 are to be calculated under current law. However, to read the statute this way contradicts the Legislature’s clear intent expressed in the first sentence, as well as principles of statutory construction. Therefore, the second sentence is read as reaffirming that defendants who commit their crime before October 1, 2011 still earn conduct credits, just under the prior law. The court also found no equal protection violation. Although the two groups of prisoners (those whose crime occurred prior to October 1, 2011 and those whose crime occurred after) are similarly situated, the different manner of treatment is justified because the disparate classification bears a rational relationship to the Legislature’s legitimate state purpose of reducing costs. While enhanced conduct credits to all prisoners would result in greater cost savings, under the deferential rational relationship test the court declined to second guess the Legislature’s choice of providing enhanced credits only to those whose crime occurred after October 1, 2011.