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Name: People v. Superior Court (Rangel)
Case #: E061292
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/21/2016
Summary

A defendant who is resentenced pursuant to Proposition 36 (Pen. Code, § 1170.126) is not entitled to apply excess custody credits to reduce his period of postrelease community supervision (PRCS). In 1996, Rangel was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun and sentenced to 25 years to life under the Three Strikes law. After passage of the Three Strikes Reform Act (Prop. 36), Rangel’s petition for resentencing was granted and he was given a determinate term. After applying excess custody credits, the trial court did not place him on PRCS (Pen. Code, § 3451, subd. (a)). The Court of Appeal denied the People’s petition for writ of prohibition/mandate. The California Supreme Court granted review and subsequently transferred the case back to the reviewing court with directions to vacate its prior opinion and reconsider the case in light of People v. Morales (2016) 63 Cal.4th 399. Held: Petition granted. Proposition 36 amended the Three Strikes law to reserve a life sentence for those defendants who are convicted of a serious felony and have two or more prior serious felonies. Based on the nature of his current conviction, upon resentencing Rangel was subject to PRCS (Pen. Code, § 3451; PRCS Act of 2011). Rangel claimed he is similarly situated to prisoners who are released on parole and they are allowed to apply excess credits to reduce parole. However, Penal Code section 2900.5 expressly allows excess custody credits to be used to reduce or eliminate a parole period (subds. (a), (c)), but no similar provision is contained in section 3451. In the context of a Proposition 47 resentencing, the Morales court concluded the defendant could not apply excess custody credits to reduce his one-year parole period, based on the plain language of section 1170.18 (defendant shall receive credit for time served and shall be subject to parole). Similarly, Proposition 36 petitioners who are subject to PRCS are not entitled to use excess custody credits to reduce the period of supervision required by section 3451, as this would conflict with the plain language of the statute.

Persons subject to PRCS are not similarly situated with parolees, so are not entitled to apply excess custody credits to reduce the period of supervision under principles of equal protection. The concept of equal protection under the laws means that persons similarly situated regarding the legitimate purposes of the law should receive equal treatment. Although there are some similarities between PRCS and parole, for purposes of applying excess custody credits to PRCS, persons subject to supervision are not similarly situated to parolees. This is because the ability to apply excess credits to a period of parole under section 2933.5 is tied to the purpose of that statute—to eliminate unequal treatment of persons who cannot afford to post bail pending trial and therefore serve longer periods in custody. But persons resentenced under Proposition 36 were serving a proper sentence and when originally sentenced received presentence custody credits. The legislative purpose behind section 2900.5 is irrelevant at the time of resentencing under Proposition 36 and therefore those resentenced under Proposition 36 may be treated differently from persons sentenced under section 2900.5.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/E061292P.PDF