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Someone please explain PC 4019 custody credits. I'm only concerned with post October 2011 crime, custody, and sentencing.

Concord, CA |

The way I read Penal Code Sections 4019(b) and 4019(c) is that for every 4 days actually served the inmate receives 2 days of conduct credit. This would be a total of 6 days credit for every 4 days served by my calculation. However, I see that many places online it is calculated as essentially half-time. And I note that PC 4019(f) says a term of four days will be deemed to have been served for every two days spent in actual custody. That seems to conflict with subsections (c) and (b) from my reading. Someone please explain using a 90 day sentence as an example. I believe the correct answer is that if an inmate receives a 90 days sentence he/she will only serve 46 days. But why is that the correct answer and not 60 days. Please explain.

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Attorney answers 4


I'm a little confused by your question, but essentially, you serve half time. Your math may not take into account that the conduct credits don't accrue until at least four days have been served. Half time is half time.

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Thanks for your response. I'm confused by the statute which states for every four days of actual time served, two days of conduct credits are available (it actually says for every four days served one day of credit is available for good conduct and other other for working). Four actual days credit plus two conduct credits equals 6 days of credit (actual and conduct) for every 4 days served by my calculation. I'm not sure where I'm going wrong. If what the statute is trying to say is that after 4 days of actual credit that you are entitled to two days conduct credit for every two days served (you serve half of the sentence), that is a horribly worded statute.

William Mark Weinberg

William Mark Weinberg


Your last statement is correct on both grounds and this statute has been heavily litigated in the appellate courts so you're not alone in your confusion.


Mr. Wienberg is correct. If serving a 90 sentence the typical sentence is suppose to be served in 45 days. However, in California there's crowded jails in many counties so a sentence of 90 days could be as little as a book and release.

The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.


4019 is very confusing, especially when one considers there are multiple ways to interpret it depending upon what legislative enactment applies (Senate Bill 18, Senate Bill 76, Assembly Bill 109, Assembly Bill 117 and Assembly Bill 17). You certainly can get different answers to the same question if the question is not clear.

As to a ninety days sentence, with no credits and for a crime that took place after October 31, 2011, for someone who is entitled to two days credit for each four days served, the prisoner should be released in sixty days.


You are misinterpreting paragraphs (b) and (c). After October 31, 2011, everyone serving a county jail sentence does half time. Sections (b) and (c) explain how we get there. In the first instance for every 4 day period of confinement a prison gets one day off for work credits. In the second it's another 1 day off for good time credits. So if you have a 4 day sentence, do the work you are assigned in jail and behave yourself you only serve 2 actual days. Sixty days is just incorrect in your example. 45 allows for work and good time credits.

Because I was recently congratulated by an Avvo questioner for having the courage not to use a disclaimer, let me make it clear that I have always answered questions subject to the Avvo general disclaimer. The answers I give are for educational purposes and not to be relied upon for legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is intended or established by virtue of these answers.

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