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Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Jail-Time Credit Not Awarded for Time under House Arrest

A criminal defendant is not entitled to jail-time credit while under postconviction house arrest or postconviction electronic monitoring because state law only grants credit to those confined to a public or private facility “intended for penal confinement,” the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

A Supreme Court majority reversed the Sixth District Court of Appeals, which ruled that an Erie County man sentenced to five years in prison was entitled to jail-time credit for the time he was on house arrest and electronic monitoring. The Court reinstated the county trial court’s judgment denying Eric Reed credit toward the prison sentence he received for violating the terms of his community control.

Writing for the Court majority, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy noted state law describes the types of confinement — such as awaiting trial or a determination of competency — that are entitled to jail-time credit, and house arrest does not qualify.

“The legislature  has expressed the intent that credit is to be given only for the time the defendant is confined to a public or private facility. Confinement in a personal residence, therefore, does not qualify under the statute ,” she wrote.

Justices Judith L. French, Patrick F. Fischer, and R. Patrick DeWine joined Justice Kennedy’s opinion. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor concurred in judgment only.

In a dissenting opinion. Justice Michael P. Donnelly wrote the state law says nothing about confinement to a public or private facility. He noted prior Ohio law specifically stated house arrest did not qualify for jail-time credit, but the law was revised in 2004, and nothing in the Ohio Revised Code would prevent house arrest from qualifying for jail-time credit.

Justice Melody J. Stewart joined Justice Donnelly’s opinion.

Violations Lead to Prison Sentence
Reed was indicted by an Erie County grand jury for engaging in criminal conduct while participating in gang activity, aggravated rioting, and assault. In July 2015, he pleaded guilty to the gang-activity charge in exchange for the dismissal of the other charges. The trial court sentenced him to five years of community control. The court informed Reed that if he violated the community control terms, he could serve five years in prison.

In December 2015, Reed was placed on house arrest for violating his community control terms, and in March 2016, he was placed on electronic monitoring after being charged with further violations. In October 2016, he appeared in trial court for the violations, but after a series of continuances, Reed did not admit to the charges until July 2017. At that time, he asserted he was entitled to jail-time credit for the time he was on standard house arrest and electronic monitoring.

The trial court denied Reed’s request, found he violated the terms of his community-control sanction, and imposed the definite five-year prison term. Reed appealed to the Sixth District, which found that house arrest and electronic monitoring qualified for jail-time credit. The Eric County Prosecutor’s Office appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.

Supreme Court Analyzes Law
Justice Kennedy noted the parties in the case argued whether Reed was entitled to credit under R.C. 2949.08(C)(1), which applies to the reduction of a sentence when a defendant is sentenced to jail for a felony or misdemeanor. The Court found the law does not apply to Reed, who was sentenced to prison. A separate law, R.C. 2967.191(A), guides sentence reductions for a person sentenced to prison and applies to the determination whether Reed is entitled to jail-time credit. However, the relevant language of both statutes is the same, so the parties’ arguments apply equally to an interpretation of R.C. 2967.191(A), the opinion noted.

The Court explained the parties focused their argument on the state law’s meaning of the word “confinement,” which is not defined in R.C. Chapter 2949. The prosecutor maintained that house arrest is not confinement because Reed’s freedom of movement was not severely restrained and he could leave his home on his own accord. Reed argued he could not leave his home without authorization from his probation officer, and could have been prosecuted for escape if he did. He maintained house arrest was a detention in a private facility for the custody of a person convicted of a crime, which entitled him to jail-time credit.

The majority opinion stated that while the state and Reed focus on the meaning of the word “confinement” in R.C. 2967.191(A), the Court focused on the language describing the types of confinement that are entitled to jail-time credit.

The law states credit can be granted “for any reason arising out of the offense for which the prisoner was convicted and sentenced, including” four specific instances where credit is granted. The law states jail time credit is granted for those confined while awaiting trial in jail; for examination of competency or sanity; for those awaiting transportation to where the prisoner will serve the prison term; or for those in a juvenile facility.

The Court noted the law uses the word “including” when listing the types of confinement can signal that the list “is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.”  

“By providing an illustrative list of the types of confinement that quality for a jail-time credit, the 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 opinion stated. 

The opinion noted all the types of confinement on the list involve a public or private facility intended for penal confinement. This “expressed the intent that credit is to be given only for the time the defendant is confined in a public or private facility.”  Because house arrest is confinement in a personal residence, it does not qualify, and Reed is not entitled to credit, the opinion concluded.

Law Permits Credit, Dissent Stated
In his dissent, Justice Donnelly noted R.C. 2967.191(A) allows credit for confinement for “any reason arising out of the offense for which the prisoner was convicted and sentenced.” Reed was placed on house arrest for violating his community control terms, and the dissenting opinion cited R.C. 2929.01(P), in which “house arrest” is defined as a type of confinement.

The dissent stated the list in R.C. 2967.191(A) is not exhaustive and on its face does not limit the form of confinement for which credit can be granted. If the General Assembly intended to deny jail-time credit for house arrest, “it certainly knew how to do so because it had done so previously,” the dissent stated. The opinion noted former R.C. 2929.23(B)(2) specifically stated electronically monitored house arrest was not entitled to jail-time credit, but that provision was removed from the law in 2004.

“The removal of that language, coupled with the nonrestrictive language in R.C. 2967.191(A), shows that is it no longer the General Assembly’s intent to deny jail-time credit for time that offenders serve under electronically monitored house arrest,” the dissent stated.

2019-0631. State v. Reed, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-4255.

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