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What Percentage of Time Will I Serve in Los Angles Criminal Case?

This is actually a loaded question as I make this post on my website.  I've been doing this for almost 30 years and the percentage of time that people are doing has never been more confusing.

Although, I will say, as far as for criminal defendants, the percentage of time has gone down significantly over time, since I've been practicing criminal defense.

Now, if you have what's called a 50% crime and you're put in the county jail, you may end up serving a very small fraction of time.

Usually, it's no more than half the time, but most of the time I'm seeing as little as 10% and 25% of a Los Angeles county jail sentence being served, especially if it's a half time crime.  When I say half time crime, there's a list of crimes that you can expect to do half time on.

Example – Penal Code 487 PC Grand Theft

For example, grand theft – California Penal Code Section 487 PC, which is a very common charge. Grand theft is described as a theft of real property, personal property, labor, or money from another individual with a loss amount of $950 or more.

Grand theft is actually a “catchall crime” that is used by prosecutors to charge someone with many types of theft offenses, such as by fraud, trick, or physically taking items without permission.

This is why PC 487 if so common and many who have been charged with violating this statute also simultaneously face charges for embezzlement, insurance fraud, healthcare fraud, real estate fraud, worker's compensation fraud, or other financial crimes.


Grand theft is a wobbler under California law that means the case can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony.  If prosecuted as a misdemeanor case, a grand theft conviction can result in the following penalties:

What Percentage of Jail Time Will I Serve in Los Angles Criminal Case?
  • up to one year in the county jail,
  • fines up to $1,000, fees, and
  • payment of victim restitution.

If prosecuted as a felony, a grand theft conviction is punishable by:

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in the California state prison,
  • fines up to $10,000,
  • restitution.

There are significant sentencing enhancements leading to additional time where the loss amount exceeds certain statutory thresholds.

For example, where the loss amount exceeds $65,000, a one-year enhancement applies.  If the loss is over $200,000, a two-year enhancement.

If over $1,300,000, the loss amount enhancement is three years.  Finally, a four-year sentencing enhancement if the loss amount exceeds $3,200,000.

In reality, you're going to do half the time on that. The judge will even tell you at the sentencing it's a half time crime, but more likely, you'll do a much smaller percentage of that if you get county jail.

California State Prison Sentences

Now, if you get a prison sentence, that starts to get a little bit more confusing. As I write this post, a lot of people aren't being sent to a California  prison even on a prison sentence for two reasons:

  • Number 1, the prisons aren't accepting people because of the Coronavirus, although I suspect that's going to be changing here pretty rapidly as people are getting vaccinated;
  • Number 2, there's only a certain small percentage of cases that you actually end up going to prison.

So, you could get a two-year prison sentence and you'll serve your whole sentence in the county jail.  That's probably the most common thing that's going on in Los Angeles county.

When you talk about percentages of time, if you plead to a violent felony strike, the percentage is 85%.  Typically, you're going to end up in prison.  If you end up in prison, you're going to probably serve 66% of that time as I make this post.

Not even the judges will tell you that because they have no control over the state prisons, who are constantly changing their percentage of time and you've got Proposition 57 where you only serve the base term on your sentence and then you're eligible for getting out.  So, that's another way to get out early.

If you get a prison sentence and you end up going to prison for a crime that's either a half time crime or an 80% crime, which would be like a serious felony for purposes of the three strikes law.

For example, you're probably going to end up serving 66% of that time, even sometimes half of that time, even for a serious felony strike.

Best Criminal Defense for Los Angeles Crimes

So, the bottom line is, you're serving a significantly less percentage of time.  Sometimes it's very difficult to calculate how much time you're going to serve.  That's why it's crucial that your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney:

  • understands how percentages work,
  • understands how the three strikes law works,
  • understands how violent and serious felonies work.

That's why you get somebody like me who's been doing this a very long time and can figure out the best crime for you to plead to in order to place you in the best position.

If you're going to have to plead to something, you want to plead to a crime that's a 50% crime if you're going to end up doing any type of custody time because you're going to get out the quickest amount of time under those circumstances.

People who end up going to prison, sometimes they're even getting out faster than those people who are in county jail, depending on how much time you got, depending on what you end up pleading guilty to. So, the percentages of time are much smaller than they used to be.  The key is to:

Best Criminal Defense for Los Angeles Crimes
  • get a crime that's not a violent felony;
  • that's not a strike, if you can avoid it, and
  • obviously getting the lowest amount of time possible.

That's done through an attorney who understands what your criminal record is, who understands the ins and outs of your case.

Your criminal lawyer also need to understands how to negotiate with prosecutors and judges when it comes to these percentages, type of offenses, type of Penal Code Section, Vehicle Code Sections and other sections of the law, and working to get you a resolution that gets you out of custody as fast as possible.

If you or a loved one needs help, you're worried about the percentage of time you're facing, pick up the phone.  Ask for Ronald Hedding who worked for the District Attorney's office and a Superior Court Judge.

Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our firm for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.