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Reversal: Pre-trial home detainees entitled to credit time

March 15, 2019

A man previously denied earned credit time against his sentence received good news Friday when an appellate court reversed, finding he was wrongly denied his request.

After pleading guilty to Level 6 felony operating while intoxicated endangering another person, all of Jeffrey Thompson’s other pending charges were dismissed. That included a charge on which Thompson had been ordered to serve 240 consecutive days of pretrial home detention.

Once he completed the full order with no problems, the state agreed to apply his earned credit time to his 730-day sentence pursuant to his plea agreement.  However, a trial court only awarded Thompson 60 days of good credit time instead of the full 240 days he had accumulated and denied his request to have it added.

Acknowledging the murkiness of issuing credit time for home detainees and the extensive legislative changes made since Purcell v. State, 721 N.E.2d 220 (Ind. 1999), the Indiana Court of Appeals found error with the trial court’s denial and thus reversed the lower court’s decision in Jeffery Thompson v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-1947.

Thompson, who was assigned to Class P as a person “placed on home detention awaiting trial,” argued that other credit time classifications earn accrued time in addition to good time credit, except for his class.

He also argued it was unnecessary for the Legislature to state that persons in Class P receive accrued time because “like those in the other credit time classes, it is implied.” Also, he argued that the Legislature would have specified if it had intended to treat pretrial home detainees differently for purposes of accrued time than those incarcerated and awaiting trial.

“Thompson further observes that he ‘was unable to find any situation in the

Indiana Code where a defendant can earn ‘good time credit’ without also

earning accrued time.’ We were also unable to find any such situation, which leads us to conclude that the legislature could not have intended such an absurd result,” Judge Terry Crone wrote, with Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik and Judge Paul Mathias concurring.  

The appellate panel also pointed out that no indications existed as to whether the legislature intended to treat pretrial and post-conviction home detainees differently under the current statutory scheme.

“Based on the numerous substantive legislative changes regarding credit time that have been enacted since Purcell, we conclude that Purcell is no longer good law with respect to accrued time for pretrial home detention,” the panel continued.

“We hold that a person placed on pretrial home detention earns accrued time (calculated at a day for a day) pursuant to the unmistakable implications of Section 35-50-6-3.1 and that the trial court has no discretion to deny it.”

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