Penal Code § 3455 PC is the California statute that instructs courts on how to treat ex-prisoners who violate the terms of their Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS). If a violation occurs, the law permits the court to modify or revoke PRCS or refer the person to reentry court.
Here are five key things to know:
- PRCS is an alternate form of parole whereby the county rather than the state manages lower-level felons after their release from prison.
- Supervision under the program is no longer than three years.
- All felons leaving prison are subject to PRCS, unless they committed certain serious or violent offenses.
- PRCS was created in 2011 by Assembly Bill 109 – referred to as realignment.
- Parole is still used for felons convicted of serious or violent felonies or certain sex offenses (such as murder, rape, or mayhem).
Our California criminal defense attorneys will explain the following in this article:
- 1. What is Post Release Community Supervision?
- 2. What if I violate my PRCS?
- 3. Is PRCS the same as probation?
- 4. Is community supervision the same as parole?
- Additional resources
1. What is Post Release Community Supervision?
- a serious felony (such as lewd acts with a minor under 14),1
- a violent felony (such as robbery),2
- a sex offense where you are deemed high-risk, or
- a crime for which you are serving a term of life in prison.3
PRCS lasts up to three years. While under supervision, you are required to abide by various terms. In our experience, this typically includes:
- rehabilitation and submitting to drug tests,
- remaining in California unless you get permission to travel first,
- not possessing weapons,
- electronic monitoring, and/or
- staying out of trouble (no new arrests).
You are eligible for discharge from supervision after six months. If you have not violated any conditions of supervision, you can end supervision after 12 months.4
2. What if I violate my PRCS?
If the police have probable cause to believe you violated the terms of your community supervision, PC 3455 permits them to arrest you without a warrant. The county may then:
- impose intermediate sanctions, such as mental health counseling and drug treatment; and/or
- subject you to a “flash incarceration,” where you can be jailed for a maximum of 10 days without a court hearing; and/or
- petition the court to revoke PRCS.5
If the county chooses to petition the court to revoke your community supervision, the county must include in its petition a written report.6 This consists of:
- any information critical to the petition,
- the applicable terms and conditions of post-release supervision,
- the alleged PRCS violation,
- your criminal history and background, and
- any recommendations to the hearing officer.7
2.1. Types of violations
There are two types of PRCS violations:
- Technical violations, which are when you fail to abide by a specific term of your supervision such as failing to check in with your supervisor.
- New law violations, which are when you allegedly commit an entirely new crime.
In our experience, judges are harder on people accused of new law violations rather than just technical violations.
2.2. Revocation hearings
3455 PC requires the court to hold a revocation hearing, or a court hearing, within a “reasonable time” after the revocation petition.8 You may remain in custody pending the hearing if the court finds by a “preponderance of the evidence” that:
- you pose an unreasonable risk to public safety, or
- remaining in custody serves the interests of justice.9
We fight for our clients at revocation hearings similarly as we do in criminal trials: We conduct aggressive cross-examination, produce all the available evidence in your favor, and call witnesses who will testify you committed no violation.
If the revocation hearing officer finds that you violated PRCS, we will argue that you deserve to remain in PRCS anyway. Some judges will agree to this, perhaps with additional conditions (that may include some incarceration). Otherwise, the court may:
- Revoke the PRCS and remand you to county jail for up to 180 days, or
- Refer you to a reentry court. Reentry court is a rehabilitative program combining case management and court oversight aimed at reducing your chances of re-offending. It also aims to help you become a productive member of society through education, job training, mental health counseling, and drug treatment.10
You also have the option to waive your right to a PRCS hearing, admit your violation, and accept any punishments the county seeks in the petition.11
Note that the trial court, and not the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), has the authority to determine who is subject to PRCS.12
3. Is PRCS the same as probation?
No. PRCS refers to a supervisory period where a county agency is responsible for monitoring you after your release from prison. Felony probation, or formal probation, is part of your sentencing and provides an alternative to incarceration.13
4. Is community supervision the same as parole?
PRCS is similar to parole in that they both involve the supervision of ex-prisoners. Though while PRCS involves community supervision, felons on parole are supervised on the state level.
Before the 2011 passage of Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109) – known as “realignment” – all felons released from prison were placed on parole. Now, those who have committed non-serious, nonviolent felonies are subject to PRCS and are supervised within their community. 14
Parole is still used, but it is reserved for those who:
- have committed serious or violent felonies,
- are high-risk sex offenders, or
- are mentally disordered.15
Once “paroled,” an inmate agrees to abide by certain terms and conditions.16
For more information on individual PRCS programs and how they work, refer to the following:
- Postrelease Community Supervision (PRCS), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
- Supervision under PRCS, County of Los Angeles
- Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS), San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
- Intensive Supervision Services Division, City and County of San Francisco
- The effects of post-release community supervision reform, Journal of Experimental Criminology (2022)
- For a list of serious felonies, see California Penal Code 1192.7c PC.
- For a list of violent felonies, see California Penal Code 667.5c PC.
- California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website, “Post Release Community Supervision.”
- See same.
- California Penal Code 3455 PC.
- California Penal Code 3455a PC.
- See same. Note that the Judicial Council is required to adopt certain forms and rules of court to help a county board of supervisors provide this information.
- California Penal Code 3455b PC.
- See same.
- California Penal Code 3455a PC.
- See same.
- People v. Tubbs (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 578.
- California Rule of Court Rule 4.41. Probation allows convicted felons to serve all or part of their sentence out of custody but under the supervision of a probation officer. Not all defendants qualify for probation. A judge determines eligibility by considering a variety of factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history, and the severity of the crime committed. A probation term lasts between three and five years. During this time, the probationer must adhere to “conditions of probation.” Examples include reporting to a probation officer (P.O.) on a regular basis, and paying victim restitution. If the probationer violates these conditions, then a judge may warn the person and reinstate the same probation terms, modify the terms and include harsher conditions, or revoke it and send the person to county jail or state prison. Felony probation only applies if a person committed a felony. If a person committed a misdemeanor, then a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor probation.
- See Assembly Bill 109. See also People v. Gutierrez (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 393.
- See same.
- California Penal Code 3000 PC. Not all inmates are eligible for parole. Eligibility typically depends on the type of sentence the inmate received, and how “good time credit” applies to that sentence. Once an inmate is placed on parole, the length of supervision depends on the crime for which they were convicted. The average parole term is about three years. The CDCR oversees California’s parole system. Members of the department (such as “parole officers”) supervise released felons for the time for which they are on parole. When an inmate is paroled depends on their sentence.