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Johnson v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 2, 2018


         Circuit Court for Baltimore City Case No. 114094009-013

          Nazarian, Arthur, Zarnoch, Robert A. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.


          Nazarian, J.

          After a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Martaz Johnson[1] (formerly a Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer) was convicted of two counts of second-degree assault and misconduct in office. The circuit court imposed sentence and Mr. Johnson was incarcerated. He appealed, then asked the trial court to release him on bond pending appeal, which was granted on condition that he submit to home detention monitoring from a private, court-approved company. He was released from prison and spent nearly sixteen months in home detention before he was released again.

         This appeal does not deal with the merits of his convictions, which have now been affirmed by the Court of Appeals. See Johnson v. State, No. 6, Sept. Term 2017 (Md.App. Feb. 21, 2018). This opinion deals instead with the question of whether Mr. Johnson should get credit against his sentences for the time he spent in home detention. The circuit court denied his motion for credit on the ground that his home detention didn't qualify as "time spent in the custody of a correctional facility, " as § 6-218(b)(1) of the Criminal Procedure Article ("CP") requires. We hold that it did qualify, and we reverse and remand with directions that the court enter an order giving Mr. Johnson credit for time spent in home detention.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Following his conviction for two counts of second-degree assault and misconduct in office, the circuit court sentenced Mr. Johnson to two concurrent terms of ten years in prison for the former charge and a concurrent five years for the latter, with all but eighteen months suspended. He was incarcerated on August 11, 2015, and appealed his convictions.

         On November 16, 2015, Mr. Johnson filed a petition asking the court to release him on an appeal bond. The circuit court granted his request but added conditions, among them the requirement that he "obtain[] a court-approved private home detention monitoring company to monitor him." The relevant ordering paragraphs spelled out the conditions more precisely:

It is hereby ORDERED this 11th day of December, 2015 by the Circuit Court for Baltimore City that Martaz Johnson be placed on Home Detention as a condition of: Pre-Trial Release After bail in the amount of $25, 000 or real property
To be supervised by Advantage Sentencing Alternative Programs (ASAP Home Detention)
* * * Under the following conditions: Standard Conditions (Allowed to attend work, counseling, medical appointments, legal/probation/home detention, weekly religious service, school, and seek employment.

         On December 14, 2015, Mr. Johnson was released on an appeal bond of $25, 000 and placed in home detention, subject to the court's conditions. Mr. Johnson signed a home detention agreement (the "Agreement") with a company called Advantage Sentencing Alternative Programs Inc. ("ASAP"), in which he agreed to be "confined" to his home and subject to twenty-four hour monitoring through a transmitter device. He agreed as well to permit ASAP to install a "home monitoring unit" in his home and to permit members of ASAP's staff to enter his home at any time to install or inspect the equipment and to ensure his compliance with the rules, regulations, and conditions of the program; to submit to random drug urinalysis and breath alcohol testing; and to refrain from using alcoholic beverages and controlled or uncontrolled substances unless prescribed by a physician. The Agreement also put Mr. Johnson on notice that violation of the listed conditions could be considered an escape for which he could be prosecuted:

I understand that my participation in the [ASAP] Home Detention Monitoring Program is Court Ordered and any violation with [ASAP] will be reported to the Court. I additionally understand that a violation of the home detention order or agreement may be considered an escape and subject to prosecution and imprisonment.

         Shortly after this Court affirmed his convictions, Mr. Johnson filed a motion to amend the trial court's appeal bond order. He asked the court to release him from home detention and credit him for the time he served in home detention. After a hearing, the circuit court denied the motion on the ground that a violation of the bond conditions exposed him only to forfeiture of the bond, not to criminal liability for escape:

As stated earlier, this judge and this judge's law clerk have done extensive research on this issue of -- on the issue of whether a defendant on appeal with an appeal bond with a condition of home detention could get credit for the time served on home detention. And it is the opinion of this Court that this is a case of first impression never having been decided by a Maryland court or by any other court in the nation.
This Court is . . . very well aware of the decision in Dedo v. State, and one thing I'd like to point out about Dedo, Dedo was actually committed to the custody of the warden of the WCDC, and throughout the period of his home detention was still in that warden's custody. The appeal bond effectively took this Defendant out of the custody of the Division of Corrections. He was in their custody for a period of time for which he certainly should get credit for.
Defendant relies on Dedo, also relies on the statute and statutes involving escape. Defendant also relies on Spriggs v. State and Kang v. State . . . In my view, these cases are inapposite. I recognize that the defendant in each of those cases was on a period of home detention. However, those cases do not involve a situation where the defendant is actually free from incarceration. Yes, there is language in Dedo and in Spriggs considering the home to be a place of incarceration or detention whereby the person, the defendant, in that situation could be charged with escape.
It is my view that the consequence of failure to adhere to the conditions of the appeal bond would result only in the potential forfeiture of the security for the appeal bond, but would not and could not result in any legally effective charge of escape. This case is just different from those other cases functionally, and I use the word "functionally" somewhat advisably. The sentence was suspended in a sense, it's out in limbo somewhere until the Court of Appeals acts on the writ of certiorari and either grants it or denies it. But even if it grants it, the Defendant's still on appeal bond until the Court is-Court of Appeals renders a decision.
The Defendant's posture legally does just - does not fit within the logic or rationale of Dedo, Spriggs or Kang in my opinion. For the reasons cited, I deny the motion.

         Mr. Johnson filed a timely notice of appeal.

         II. ...

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