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Can a Defendant Sentenced to Prison Get Jail-Time Credit for House Arrest After Sentencing?

According to the Ohio Supreme Court, the answer is “no.” This month, the Ohio Supreme Court issued its decision in State v. Reed, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-4255. In Reed, the defendant was found guilty of a felony and given five years of community control with a suspended five year prison sentence. After the defendant violated the terms of his community control multiple times, he was placed on house arrest and electronic monitoring. Ultimately, when he admitted to the violations two years from his original community control sentence, the court imposed the suspended five year prison term. The defendant appealed the decision to the Sixth District Court of Appeals, arguing his sentenced should have been reduced because he should have received jail-time credit for the time served on house arrest and electronic monitoring.

The Sixth District sided with the defendant and overruled the trial court’s decision. The State of Ohio, however, appealed the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, which overruled the Sixth District’s decision.

Essentially, the Ohio Supreme Court held state law grants jail time credit only to those confined to a public or private facility “intended for penal confinement.”

Analysis

The Court focused its analysis on R.C. 2967.191, which reduces prison terms based upon jail time credit. The statute states in relevant part, “The department of rehabilitation and correction shall reduce the prison term of a prisoner… by the total number of days that the prisoner was confined for any reason arising out of the offense for which the prisoner was convicted and sentenced, including confinement in lieu of bail while awaiting trial, confinement for examination to determine the prisoner’s competence to stand trial or sanity, confinement while awaiting transportation to the place where the prisoner is to serve the prisoner’s prison term…and confinement in a juvenile facility.”

The analysis hinged on the understanding of the term “confinement.” Interestingly, the Ohio Revised Code does not define the term “confinement.” The prosecutor for the State of Ohio argued house arrest is not confinement because a defendant’s freedom of movement is not severely restrained as the individual is free to leave his or her own home whenever he or she so pleases. Mr. Reed argued his freedom of movement was significantly restrained because he could not leave his home without authorization from his probation officer and if he did not get such permission, he could be charged with the crime of escape. He further argued his house arrest was a type of confinement or detention in a private facility due to his conviction, which should entitle him to jail time credit.

Though the Court could not use a statutory definition, it looked to the statutory list of the types of confinement for jail time credit purposes under R.C. 2967.191. The Court stated the statutory list was illustrative of the types of confinement the legislature had in mind. In fact, the Court wrote, “[t]he General Assembly has demonstrated that it intends that credit should not be given for all types of confinement. Otherwise, the General Assembly would not have included the illustrative list.”

The list spelled out in R.C. 2967.191 involved a public or private facilities intended for penal confinement. A personal residence, according to the Court, does not qualify for this purpose and therefore, house arrest is not the type of confinement for which jail time credit should be granted.

Conclusion

The Reed decision is devastating to defendants who are confined in their home after their sentence and who ultimately are sentenced to prison. While house arrestees are indeed able to physically leave their home, they are closely monitored and are unable to leave their home without permission for very limited necessities. If they do not comply, there are significant legal consequences, including but not limited to a new criminal charge, an imposition of prison time, or both. Thus, house arrest, is in effect, strict confinement for which jail time credit should be granted.

If you or anyone you know has been charged with a crime or is seeking jail time credit, feel free to contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers at our office for your free consultation.

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