Cross County Jurisdictional Differences – Judge Expresses Concern Over Whether Credits for Time Served in Santa Barbara Could Transfer to Separate Case in Ventura

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By Gina Kim

SANTA BARBARA, CA – After a debate over whether credits for time served in Santa Barbara County Jail would transfer over to a previous sentence in Ventura County, Ernesto Salvador Flores was convicted by conditional plea for sale of a controlled substance, as well as assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury in a sentencing hearing here in Santa Barbara County Superior Court Tuesday.

Flores was already sentenced to an eight-year state prison term in Ventura County. But for the past year, he had been held in custody at Santa Barbara County Jail under charges of assault.

Probation Officer Francisco Martinez noted that because Flores was already a sentenced prisoner for another case while serving time in Santa Barbara, the probation department believed his sentence in Ventura should have been served first.

Judge Brian Hill inquired whether this meant Flores would gain no credits for the case at bar.

“These are separate and distinct sentences,” Hill remarked. “Sometimes when it’s a probationary sentence then they would not have been held, but for some out-of-county charge the rules are different.”

Deputy District Attorney Hannah Meyer informed the court there was no agreement on whether Flores was serving time on the assault case consecutive or concurrent to the case in Ventura. Instead, the only agreement was that both cases would be served concurrent—served at the same time—to each other.

The court would have to recalculate to make a consecutive sentence. Otherwise, operational law demanded the cases be concurrent.

Defense Attorney Michael Carty argued that the fact the credits would be accepted for Santa Barbara custody was important to his client. Flores believed he would receive credit on the assault case for his time spent here, expecting he would deal with Ventura later.

After reviewing his notes, PO Martinez stated Flores would not be entitled any credits until sentencing. Therefore, Flores would receive credits for Ventura during his time in Santa Barbara.

But Judge Hill maintained Flores was held in Santa Barbara for charges here. In turn, he should be entitled to credits here.

Conversely, probation department records indicate that when Flores was sentenced in Ventura, the court granted Flores custody credits for his time in Santa Barbara. Consequently, Flores would not be entitled to custody credits for the Santa Barbara case, ultimately allowing Flores dual credits.

Judge Hill admitted to feeling uncertain on how to proceed.

Martinez suggested the court could stipulate to the credits if that’s what the court chose to do.

“Well the court wants to do what is legally correct,” Hill remarked, “but my sense is he’s entitled to the credits here. I’m not certain he’s entitled to the credits for Ventura.

If there was a Ventura hold while Flores was in custody here, then it turns on whether or not Flores would be released here, but for the Ventura hold.

Judge Hill maintained his belief Flores was entitled to custody credits, and, eventually, Judge Hill did just what his “gut” told him to do. Give Flores Santa Barbara credits.

Flores was convicted with assault likely to produce great bodily injury, a felony offense, amounting to double four years of state prison. Custody credits of 355 days plus 354 days good time work time added to a total of 709 days.

For the companion case on felony possession for sale of methamphetamine, Flores was convicted by conditional plea. Judge Hill imposed a mid-term of two years in state prison, concurrent. Custody credits of 387 days plus 386 good time work time added to total of 773 days.

In both cases the court ordered DNA testing, and retained jurisdiction over restitution.

Despite the existing 10-year no-contact order, Carty and Meyer discussed how the victim and Flores have a child together. The victim expressed desire for their family to have contact at some point—after Flores served his prison term, and under the assurance of her child’s safety. The court agreed to revisit this issue in the future.

Flores was remanded to the custody of the sheriff for transportation to the Department of Corrections.

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About The Author

Gina is a sophomore at UCSB majoring in History of Public Policy and Law. She's an aspiring professional writing minor interested in studying law.

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