October 16, 2013 By Wallin & Klarich

When making sentencing calculations, courts must take into consideration presentence custody credits. First, a court must consider whether people are eligible for “conduct credits” based on their good conduct during presentence incarceration. Second, California Penal Code Section 2900.5 also provides for credits for time served. Under Section 2900.5, “persons who remain in custody prior to sentencing receive credit against their prison terms.” There is however an important limitation: the presentence custody must be attributable to the conduct that led to their conviction.

While this statutory rule appears rather straightforward, its application by California courts has revealed many hidden complexities. The California Supreme Court has gone as far to state in its opinions that a “credit determination is not a simple matter.” The only sure consensus among California appellate courts is that Section 2900.5 is very difficult to apply.

People v. Jacobs and Presentence Credits


In 2011, Mathew Jacobs was charged in two separate forcible rape cases. The two incidents took place only a few weeks apart. After pleading no contest to forcible rape in his first case and pleading no contest to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in the second, the court determined at sentencing that Jacobs would serve 11 years and two years concurrently. The trial court calculated that Jacobs was entitled to 46 and 171 days of presentence custody credits in two cases respectively. Jacobs appealed the trial court’s calculation of his presentence custody credits.

California Court of Appeal Ruling and Rationale

The California Court of Appeal recognized that trial courts should attempt to interpret Section 2900.5 so that it produces fair and reasonable results in a majority of cases. Courts should avoid creating windfalls for defendants through duplicate credits, but also eliminate unequal treatment suffered by indigent defendants who cannot post bail.

Presentencing Credits

Calculating presentencing credits can be a very difficult matter, even for the courts. Trial courts frequently make errors during this process. If you were held in custody prior to your sentencing hearing, you are entitled to credits for time already served. These credits are important because they will shorten your length of incarceration. If you are facing charges in more than one incident, the calculation of your credits becomes much more complicated. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have the experience to navigate this complicated law and help you obtain the credits you deserve.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending clients accused of a criminal offense. If you are being charged with a criminal offense, it is imperative that you contact our law offices immediately. Our attorneys have the experience to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case and truly know the law. We will fight for your freedom through every step of the process.

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