Conrad Murray‘s defense team has yet to make its case, but things aren’t looking good for the doctor so far.
Then again, they could be looking worse.
Even if Murray is found guilty of involuntary manslaughter—the only crime he’s charged with—in the June 25, 2009, death of Michael Jackson, he may spend little to no time behind bars.
Well, maybe that’s why they call California the Golden State. If you get locked up there, it’s likely that you’ll be golden in no time.
Due to chronic overcrowding, just this month the state implemented a new system called “prison realignment,” in which criminals charged with what are categorized as lower-level offenses spend their sentences in county jails, rather than state prisons.
Under this new system, involuntary manslaughter (as well as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, assault, battery, statutory rape, sexual exploitation by doctors or psychotherapists, auto theft, burglary, grand theft, forgery, counterfeiting, drug possession, etc.) would be considered lower-level.
“If the person were convicted of a felony and sentenced to state prison, and if they were on good behavior, that person could spend 50 percent of their time unless there were certain conditions set forth by the judge,” Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department spokesman Capt. Mike Parker told E! News.
But per the new system, Murray, who’s facing a maximum of four years in state prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter, could end up being sentenced to a term in one of those bursting-at-the-seams L.A. County jails instead.
And if he is, he could end up spending little to no time behind bars due to the overcrowding problem. Many non-violent offenders in L.A. County end up serving around one-quarter of their sentences, meaning Murray could be out in a year.
Or, he might not go in at all.
“The decision on whether or not Murray gets house arrest is up to the sheriff; it’s not up to the courts or the judge,” L.A. criminal defense attorney Troy Slaten tells E! News. “So let’s say, for example, he is sentenced to three years’ probation and one year in county jail. The sheriff could say, ‘We don’t have any room for someone that is not a violent offender and so therefore we are going to have him serve six months on house arrest with electronic monitoring.'”
If Murray is sentenced to house arrest, however, there’s pretty much no chance of getting out of that early, so one year would mean one year. (Or more, if that’s how the chips fell.)
Says defense attorney Alec Rose: “I’ve had clients with ankle monitors on house arrest who have asked to just go to jail and get it done. Because while you’re on it, your house is subject to search 24 hours a day, you cannot have any alcohol in your house and you’re not allowed to have social visitors.”
In addition to prison time, Murray is also facing the complete loss of his medical license. The California Medical Board has already suspended his license to practice in the state due to negligence detected in its investigation of the Jackson case.