April 15, 2012

Colorado Court of Appeals 3-29-12 People v. Torrez


People v. Torrez            Pre-Sentence Confinement Credit
Facts: Out of Denver, a jury found Ms. Torrez not guilty by reason of insanity in a murder case. The Denver court sent her to the state hospital. Subsequently, in Jefferson County, she pled, and the court sentenced Ms. Torrez to 10 years in prison, with 83 days pre-sentence confinement credit. Ms. Torrez sought an additional 1,493 days pre-sentence confinement credit for time Denver and the state hospital held her on the Jefferson County case.
Issue: Under the latest amendment in 2003 to C.R.S. §18-1.3-405, does the statute permit pre-sentence confinement credit on a sentence when another jurisdiction holds an accused?
Held: No.
Reasoning: The Court of Appeals all but begged the Colorado Supreme Court to reverse the holding here. The Court of Appeals reasoned despite the plain language statute, which dictates all the additional credit, it could not grant the credit due to Colorado Supreme Court precedent. However, the Court of Appeals found that precedent did not prohibit it from granting time to Ms. Torrez since the jury in Denver found her not guilty by reason of insanity.
            Previously, the Colorado Supreme Court came up with test not in the statute – ‘substantial nexus’. The Court then promptly ignored its manufactured test, and denied credit whenever the jail in a specific jurisdiction did not hold the accused on the offense in that jurisdiction. People v. Massey, 736 P.2d 19 (Colo. 1987); People v. Freeman, 735 P.2d 879 (Colo. 1987). For parolees, the Court whimsically held that credit only goes to the parole period and not the new offense. People v. Norton, 63 P.3d 339 (Colo. 2003). Again, nary a word in the statute limiting credit for parolees. Unthwarted these strict-constructionalist justices (Justices Eid, Rice, and Coates) marched on unhinged from the confines of actual statutory language. Since these decisions, the legislature again amended the statute to make it crystal clear that credit, wherever served, under whatever conditions, and despite judicial handwringing, must be granted. The statute reads simply enough: “A person who is confined for an offense prior to the imposition of sentence for said offense is entitled to credit against the term of his or her sentence for the entire period of such confinement.” (panel: Judge Hawthorne wrote the opinion, and Judges Lichtenstein and Booras concurred).

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