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State v. Owens

Supreme Court of Idaho

February 9, 2015

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
DAMENIEL PRESTON OWENS, Defendant-Appellant

2015 Opinion No. 15

Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Twin Falls County. Hon. Randy J. Stoker, District Judge.

District court order on credit for time served, vacated and remanded.

Sara B. Thomas, Idaho State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Sally Jane Cooley, Deputy Appellate Public Defender argued.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General argued.

BURDICK, Chief Justice. Justices EISMANN and HORTON, CONCUR. J. JONES, Justice, dissenting. Justice Pro Tem WALTERS CONCURS.

OPINION

Page 31

BURDICK, Chief Justice

This appeal arose from the Twin Falls County district court's denial of Dameniel Owens's motion for credit for time served. In that denial, the district court specified that Owens would only receive credit for his prejudgment time served in a county jail on one of his eight counts of issuing a check without funds. Owens argues that Idaho Code section 18-309 plainly and unambiguously requires the district court to credit his prejudgment time served to each of his eight counts. Owens contends that we should overrule State v. Hoch, 102 Idaho 351, 630 P.2d 143 (1981), because in that case the Court improperly went beyond the statute's plain meaning to hold that the legislature intended a defendant could not receive credit for each separate crime. We overrule State v. Hoch, vacate the district court's order denying Owens's motion for credit for time served, and remand.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Owens pled guilty to eight counts of issuing a check without funds. On December 17, 2012, the Twin Falls County district court sentenced Owens to unified terms of fifteen months in prison with six months fixed for each charge. The court ordered the eight counts to run consecutively to each other and concurrently with one count of grand theft in Ada County. The court ordered that Owens would receive credit against his sentence for time previously served.

Page 32

Owens filed a motion for credit for time served. In that motion, Owens specified that he only received credit for prejudgment time served on one of the eight counts of issuing a check without funds. Owens argued that he should have received this credit on each one of the eight counts. Owens acknowledged that Idaho Supreme Court precedent in State v. Hoch held that time served would not be credited for each count. However, he asked the district court to reject Hoch as " manifestly wrong, unjust, or unwise" and credit him his prejudgment time served for each of the eight counts he pled guilty to.

The district court denied Owens's motion on May 22, 2013, noting that Owens would receive credit for time served only on one count of issuing a check without funds. Owens timely appealed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

We exercise free review over statutory interpretation because it is a question of law. State v. Dunlap, 155 Idaho 345, 361, 313 P.3d 1, 17 (2013). Our objective when interpreting a statute is " to derive the intent of the legislative body that adopted the act." Id. (quoting State v. Schulz, 151 Idaho 863, 866, 264 P.3d 970, 973 (2011)). Statutory interpretation begins with the statute's plain language. Dunlap, 155 Idaho at 361, 313 P.3d at 17. This Court considers the statute as a whole, and gives words their plain, usual, and ordinary meanings. Id. When the statute's language is unambiguous, the legislature's clearly expressed intent must be given effect, and we do not need to go beyond the statute's plain language to consider other rules of statutory construction. Id. at 361-62, 313 P.3d at 17-18.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Idaho Code section 18-309 allows a defendant to receive credit on multiple charges for prejudgment time served and therefore requires this Court to overrule State v. Hoch.

Idaho Code section 18-309 governs sentencing credit for pre- and postjudgment time served. That statute states:

In computing the term of imprisonment, the person against whom the judgment was entered, shall receive credit in the judgment for any period of incarceration prior to entry of judgment, if such incarceration was for the offense or an included offense for which the judgment was entered. The remainder of the term commences upon the pronouncement of sentence and if thereafter, during such term, the defendant by any legal means is temporarily released from such imprisonment and subsequently returned thereto, the time during which he was at large must not be computed as part of such term.

I.C. § 18-309. This appeal focuses on Idaho Code section 18-309's first sentence, which governs credit for prejudgment time served. That part of the statute requires courts to give a person credit on his sentence for the time he served in jail before he was convicted of or pled guilty to his crime. Law v. Rasmussen, 104 Idaho 455, 457, 660 P.2d 67, 69 (1983).

This Court has interpreted Idaho Code section 18-309 as prohibiting a court from crediting prejudgment confinement towards more than one count of a concurrent sentence. State v. Hoch, 102 Idaho 351, 630 P.2d 143 (1981). In Hoch, a defendant argued that he should have been credited 383 days he spent in prejudgment confinement on each of his two consecutive sentences. Id. at 352, 630 P.2d at 144. The Court stated:

A statute is to be construed in consideration of the reason for the statute, its object and purpose and thereby ascertain and render effective the legislative intent. We hold that the purpose of I.C. § 18-309 is clearly to give a person convicted of a crime credit for such time as he may have served prior to the actual sentencing upon conviction. We find no intent of the legislature that a person so convicted should have that credit pyramided simply because he was sentenced to consecutive terms for separate crimes.

Id. (internal citations omitted). Subsequent Idaho Court of Appeals cases have addressed this issue and applied Hoch 's reasoning. See State v. Hernandez, 120 Idaho 785, 792, 820 P.2d 380, 387 (Ct. App. 1991) (holding that

Page 33

Idaho Code section 18-309 does not allow the defendant to receive credit for more time than he has actually been in confinement); See also State v. Vasquez, 142 Idaho 67, 69, 122 P.3d 1167, 1169 (Ct. App. 2005) (holding that " where two or more charges form multiple bases for the defendant's presentence confinement, the defendant is entitled to credit against each sentence imposed on those charges as long as the credit would not be duplicative" ).

Owens argues that Idaho Code section 18-309 is unambiguous and has only one reasonable interpretation: that a defendant receives credit for prejudgment time served on each sentence for each count. The State contends that Owens asks for credit for more time than he actually spent in prejudgment confinement by multiplying his time by the number of sentences. The State argues this Court should reject Owens's interpretation and continue to follow Hoch because ...


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