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Medina v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

March 2, 2018

EDWIN MONTAL MEDINA, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.

         Appeal from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Trial Court Nos. 3AN-13-6960 CR & 3AN-10-11426 CR Anchorage, Paul E. Olson, Judge.

          Jaffer K. Khimani, Assistant Public Advocate, and Richard Allen, Public Advocate, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

          Patrick J. McKay, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

          Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, and Allard and Wollenberg, Judges.

          OPINION

          WOLLENBERG, Judge

         Edwin Montal Medina was ordered into residential treatment while he awaited the adjudication of a petition to revoke his probation. Medina's probation was ultimately revoked, but the court released him back to probation without imposing a sentence of imprisonment. The question presented in this appeal is whether Medina was later entitled to seek credit for the time he spent in residential treatment after the court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment in connection with a subsequent probation revocation in the same case. For the reasons explained in this opinion, we conclude that the answer is yes.

         Because we conclude that the answer is yes, we direct the superior court to reach the merits of Medina's request. That is, we direct the court to evaluate Medina's request under AS 12.55.027, the statute that sets out the criteria governing the award of jail credit for time spent in treatment.

         Underlying facts and proceedings

         In 2014, Edwin Montal Medina was on supervised probation in two cases. After the State alleged that Medina violated his probation in both cases, the superior court ordered Medina to enter residential treatment as a condition of bail pending resolution of the petitions to revoke his probation. Medina entered residential treatment at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center.

         Medina resided at the Salvation Army program for 184 days, and he successfully completed the program. At a subsequent hearing, the parties announced a plea agreement: because Medina had successfully completed treatment, he would admit the allegations, no term of incarceration would be imposed, and Medina would return to probation. The court accepted the agreement of the parties, and the court resolved the petitions to revoke probation by returning Medina to probation without imposing any portion of his suspended sentence. Medina did not, at that time, ask the court for credit for the time he had spent in residential treatment.

         In 2015, the State again alleged that Medina had violated his probation. Ultimately, the parties reached a resolution calling for the imposition of a composite 150 days of Medina's previously suspended sentences.

         Medina's attorney then moved for credit against this composite term of incarceration for the time Medina had spent at the Salvation Army residential treatment program in 2014. In support of this request, Medina's attorney relied on AS 12.55.027, the statute governing credit for time spent in treatment.

         The State opposed the request, relying on a different statute, AS 12.55.025(c). Under AS 12.55.025(c), a defendant is entitled to "credit for time spent in custody pending trial, sentencing, or appeal, if the detention was in connection with the offense for which sentence was imposed[.]" The State argued that the time Medina spent in treatment in 2014 was not served "in connection" with his later 2015 probation violations, and thus, AS 12.55.025(c) precluded credit.

         The superior court denied Medina's request for credit. The court did not reach the question of whether the conditions of Medina's stay in the treatment program entitled him to credit under AS 12.55.027. Rather, adopting the State's argument regarding AS 12.55.025(c), the court ruled as a legal matter that Medina was not entitled to the requested credit because the time he had spent at the Salvation Army program was served in connection with his earlier 2014 probation violations, not the 2015 probation violations for which he was being sentenced. The court concluded that granting credit for Medina's earlier treatment would effectively give Medina a reserve of credit for use against any sentence later imposed for a subsequent probation violation.

         Medina appeals the court's ruling.

         A note on the interplay between AS 12.55.025(c) and AS 12.55.027

         Alaska Statute 12.55.025(c) entitles defendants to "credit for time spent in custody pending trial, sentencing, or appeal, if the detention was in connection with the offense for which sentence was imposed[.]" Relying on this statute, the superior court denied Medina's request for credit against his sentence for time previously spent in residential treatment.

         As an initial matter, we question whether AS 12.55.025(c) applies to Medina's request for credit. In a 1980 case, Lock v. State, the Alaska Supreme Court first recognized a defendant's entitlement to credit for time spent in substantially restrictive residential treatment as a condition of probation.[1] Lock argued that the phrase "in custody" as used in AS 11.05.040(a) - the precursor to AS 12.55.025(c) - should be interpreted broadly to include therapeutic programs in which the conditions of residence are so restrictive that they approximate custody.[2] The supreme court agreed.[3]

         In a line of cases beginning with Nygren v. State, we then applied the reasoning of Loch to requests for credit for time spent in residential treatment as a condition of bail.[4] We interpreted AS 12.55.025(c) (which is substantially similar to former AS 11.05.040(a)) as requiring a court to grant a defendant credit for time spent in residential treatment under court order if the defendant was subject to restrictions approximating incarceration.[5]

         Then, in 2007, the Alaska Legislature enacted a specific statute defining those situations in which a defendant may receive credit for time spent in non-prison treatment programs.[6] This statute, AS 12.55.027, supplanted the rule we had followed in the Nygren cases for determining whether a defendant's stay in a treatment program was sufficiently restrictive to entitle that person to credit.[7] Because AS 12.55.027 authorizes credit for treatment programs regardless of whether those programs would qualify as "custody" under AS 12.55.025(c), it is ...


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