What was Brock Turner's sentence?
June 7, 2016 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I want to know exactly what Brock Turner's sentence is, and it doesn't seem to me that any news outlets have been reporting this information. I do not want to debate or discuss the sentence. I am aware that the media is reporting 6 months in county jail, followed by 3 years of probation. My question is: what is the penalty if he violates the terms of his probation during those three years (what is the incentive to report to probation, test negative for drugs, etc.)? ie. what period of incarceration is probated for a period of 3 years?

To make this extra clear so that I don't get wrong answers, in Kentucky felony sentences take the form of __ years probated for a term of 3 or 5 years. You can have 1 year probated for 3; you can have 5 years probated for 3; you can have 10 years probated for 5; etc. How many years are we talking about in Brock Turner's case?
posted by likeatoaster to Law & Government (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As far as I am aware, there is no specific period of incarceration specified. If he violates probation, he goes in front of a judge for re-sentencing, which could end up being anything from stricter monitoring of his probation terms, to a revocation and reinstatement of harsher probation, to revocation and jail time, depending on what he does. While probation in California can go along with a suspended sentence (which I think is roughly what you're referring to in Kentucky?), it doesn't have to.
posted by brainmouse at 5:12 PM on June 7, 2016

Does the judge have unfettered discretion to impose sanctions, up to the maximum 14 year sentence? Is there some other maximum sanction (for example, serving those 3 years in prison instead of on probation)?
posted by likeatoaster at 5:17 PM on June 7, 2016

The news media have no clue when it comes to reporting on criminal sentences, which is why no reporter will ever dig behind the "and three years probation" formulation.

Only a California criminal lawyer could answer this question with any authority. In my state, there is no such thing as "x years probated for y." That may be peculiar to Kentucky. In many states, there is a wide range of discretion: the judge could simply revoke probation and order him to serve the entire 14-year sentence. Whether he would, and for which particular violations of probation, is the uncertainty.
posted by yclipse at 4:11 AM on June 8, 2016

In my jurisdiction, I believe breach of probation is a separate criminal charge which carries its own sentence.
posted by girlpublisher at 4:16 AM on June 8, 2016

"what is the penalty if he violates the terms of his probation during those three years (what is the incentive to report to probation, test negative for drugs, etc.)? ie. what period of incarceration is probated for a period of 3 years?"

the probation officer and the judge have some discretion with how they handle noncompliance or outright violations of conditions of probation. if the defendant violates, and the state pursues it, he will get rearrested, and charged with a violation of his probation. he will then get some kind of separate sentence for the violation, if he pleads to it or is found guilty. this may be consecutive or concurrent to his sentence for the original offense, if it is jail time at all.

instead of a new term of imprisonment, he could violate and get a court order extending his probation or changing/amending its conditions. for example, if he has a no alcohol condition and gets caught drinking, he could get anything from a stern talking to by his PO, to a change in his conditions requiring treatment for alcoholism, to a violation followed by a revocation hearing followed by a new sentencing, or some combination of things. it's up to the PO and the judge, if there are no conflicting statutes in CA telling prosecutors when they have to pursue violations/revocation.

you are asking a question that only a california criminal defense lawyer could answer reliably, and even then, they would need more facts. this guy will be incarcerated for six months, and then he will be assigned to a state PO for three years. but if he fucks up on probation, there are lots of different ways a probation officer and a judge could react to it. this is why the news stays away from reporting too closely about sentencing - people are all "what will happen!?!" and the real answer is, "it depends on various factors, many of which are what the defendant does next," which is not easy to shove into the last two sentences of a clickbait article.

source: i am a lawyer who became a probation officer (in a non california jurisdiction). i don't know a lot of specifics about california criminal law but i can tell you that most places do not do the simpler x probated for y formula, because it limits the various kinds of sentences that can be given.
posted by zdravo at 12:55 PM on June 8, 2016

It's hard to be definitive without seeing the judgment, which does not appear to be available online. California Penal Code 1203 PC, defines probation as a type of supervisory sentence that a judge may impose either
•instead of, OR
•in addition to
incarceration in county jail or state prison.

The way I read the sentence in the Turner case, followed by some googling, is that the judge did the latter. This means not that a sentence is probated for three years, but that there is a six-month county jail term followed by a three-year term of probation. (The federal system works this way with a term of supervision following the prison term, two separate components of the sentence.) If the defendant completes the jail term, is released, placed on probation, then violates that probation, the judge can revoke probation and sentence the defendant to jail for the term of probation, three years. The judge can also impose a lesser sanction, such as giving the defendant a warning or stricter probation conditions.
posted by *s at 1:41 PM on June 8, 2016

For posterity, the answer appears to be a maximum sanction of 14 years, based on my conversations with practicing California attorneys.
posted by likeatoaster at 4:27 AM on June 17, 2016

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