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State v. Bell

Court of Appeals of Alaska

March 9, 2018

STATE OF ALASKA, Petitioner,
v.
ROBERT DANIEL BELL, Respondent.

         Petition for Review from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Jack W. Smith, Judge. Trial Court No. 3AN-12-5493 CR

          A. James Klugman, Assistant District Attorney, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Petitioner.

          Jason A. Weiner, Gazewood & Weiner, P.C., Fairbanks, for the Respondent.

          Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge. [*]

          OPINION

          ALLARD, JUDGE

         In 2015, the Alaska legislature amended AS 12.55.027(d) to give trial courts the authority to grant credit against a sentence of imprisonment for time that the defendant spent on electronic monitoring as a condition of bail release, provided that certain statutory requirements are met. One of these requirements is that the person "has not committed a criminal offense while under electronic monitoring."

         In this petition, we are asked to review the superior court's decision to grant full credit under AS 12.55.027(d) to the defendant in this case, who was released multiple times on bail pending appeal under conditions that included electronic monitoring. For the reasons explained here, we affirm the superior court's order in part, reverse the superior court's order in part, and remand this case to the superior court for further proceedings consistent with the guidance provided here.

         Underlying facts

         Following a jury trial, Robert Daniel Bell was convicted of second- and third-degree theft for receiving a stolen computer.[1] Bell appealed his convictions to this Court, and we affirmed his convictions in an unpublished opinion issued on January 11, 2017.[2] Bell then petitioned the Alaska Supreme Court to hear his case; that petition was denied on May 9, 2017.[3] Thus, under Alaska Appellate Rules 507(b) and 5l2(a)(2)[b], our affirmance of Bell's conviction became final on May 10, 2017.

         During the time that Bell's appeal was pending, Bell was granted bail pending appeal and he served what appears to have been three distinct periods of time on electronic monitoring. The first period of time (Period I) covered January 14, 2014 through June 6, 2014. This period ended because Bell was remanded to custody based on allegations that he violated the conditions of his release. However, Bell was re-released on electronic monitoring on July 18, 2014. This second period of time on electronic monitoring (Period II) was briefly interrupted by what appears to have been a remand by the electronic monitoring company (but not by the court) on August 15, 2014. Bell apparently returned to electronic monitoring on September 12, 2014 under the same court order as before. Bell's second period of electronic monitoring subsequently ended on November 21, 2014, when Bell was arrested and charged with third-degree theft, a new criminal offense to which Bell later pleaded guilty. Nearly a year and a half later, Bell was again granted bail pending appeal and released on electronic monitoring. This last period of time on electronic monitoring (Period III) continued from the date of his release on electronic monitoring (March 18, 2016) through the end of his appeal.

         Invoking the provisions of AS 12.55.027(d), Bell asked the superior court to award him credit against his sentence of imprisonment for the time he spent on electronic monitoring under the court orders granting him bail release pending appeal. Over the State's objections, the superior court granted Bell credit for the entire time he spent on electronic monitoring, with the exception of one day - the day on which Bell committed the third-degree theft that he was later convicted of.

         The State petitioned this Court to review the superior court's ruling. We granted the petition and requested supplemental briefing on the factual basis for the State's objections to the superior court's decision.

         In its supplemental briefing, the State concedes that Bell is entitled to credit for Period III - the time from March 18, 2016 until May 10, 2017. We conclude that the State's concession is well-founded, [4] and we therefore affirm that portion of the superior court's order.

         We also agree with the State that the superior court had no authority to grant Bell credit against his sentence for Period II, because Bell's release on electronic monitoring for that time period was terminated based on his commission of a new crime. Accordingly, we reverse that portion of the superior court's order.

         However, we conclude that further proceedings are required to determine if Bell is entitled to receive credit against his sentence for Period I. We therefore vacate that portion of the superior court's order, and remand this case to the superior court for further proceedings consistent with the guidance provided here.

         Why we conclude that Bell is entitled to credit for Period III

         Alaska Statute 12.55.027(d) authorizes trial courts to award credit against a defendant's sentence for the time a defendant spends on bail release if the conditions of release include electronic monitoring, and if the conditions of release are otherwise sufficiently restrictive.

         Here, the parties do not dispute that Bell's electronic monitoring conditions were sufficiently restrictive to qualify for credit under AS 12.55.027(d). The parties also agree that Bell did not commit a crime during Period III of his bail release - i.e., after Bell was released for the last time on electronic monitoring on March 18, 2016.

         On this basis, the State concedes that Bell is entitled to credit against his sentence for Period III (from March 18, 2016 until May 10, 2017). We agree.

         Why we conclude that Bell is not entitled to credit for Period II

         Under the terms of AS 12.55.027(d), a trial court may not grant credit for time spent on electronic monitoring if the defendant "has ... committed a criminal offense while under electronic monitoring."

         Here, the parties agree that Bell committed a new crime while he was released on electronic monitoring. On November 21, 2014, Bell was arrested for third-degree theft - and this arrest ended Period II of ...


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