COA affirms denial of credit for time spent at halfway house

The Grant Superior Court did not err when it denied a man’s request for credit for time spent in a halfway house, as his placement at the house was not considered confinement or imprisonment, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In November 2012, Cody Hickman pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and theft under one cause and admitted to a probation violation under another cause, in which he had pleaded guilty to theft and resisting law enforcement. He was sentenced to a mix of executed and suspended time on the new conviction and violation, including four years of supervised probation.

After being released from prison to serve his probation in January 2015, Hickman, through the Grant County reentry court program, lived at a halfway house called Grace House. He was required to keep a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and to be at the halfway house unless he had signed out for work, group meetings or meeting with his probation officer.

However, Hickman’s probation officer later testified that eventually Hickman stopped working, but signed out of Grace House as if he were going to work. The state then petitioned to revoke Hickman’s participation in reentry court in both June and October 2016.

From the time he began the reentry program until October 2016, Hickman committed several violations, including testing positive for marijuana, breaking curfew, committing battery and absconding from the program for two months, among other violations. Thus, the Grant Superior Court granted the state’s second petition to revoke Hickman’s reentry participation and probation and ordered him to execute his four-year suspended sentence.

Hickman was credited with 78 days against his sentence for time served in jail, but his request for additional credit for the “period of time where his liberties and freedoms ha(d) been taken away” while at Grace House was denied. Hickman then appealed in Cody R. Hickman v. State of Indiana, 27A02-1701-CR-59, arguing that he should have received credit for his time at Grace House.

The Indiana Court of Appeals, however, agreed Tuesday that Hickman was not entitled to such credit, with Judge Paul Mathias writing Hickman was not “confined” or “imprisoned” while at the halfway house.

Hickman’s placement there was not involuntary, Mathias said, and there was no record that his curfew was actually enforced. Additionally, the degree of supervision over Hickman while at the house “appears to have been quite loose,” so he failed to present evidence of restrictions on his autonomy and privacy during his placement, the judge wrote.

“To the extent that Hickman was able to patronize bars, smoke marijuana, feely lie about his employment, and disappear for two months while participating in reentry court, participation appears to have left him quite at liberty,” Mathias wrote.

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