The PA Superior Court has recently decided the case of Commonwealth v. Dixon, 1633 MDA 2016 (May 1, 2017), holding that pre-sentence time spent subject to electronic monitoring at home is not time spent in “custody” for purposes of credit toward one’s sentence. 

Willie Frank Dixon, II appealed from the judgment of sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County after he pled guilty to one count of rape by forcible compulsion of a female under 16 years old. Sentenced to a term of incarceration of three and one-half to seven years, Dixon contended that the court’s refusal to credit him with time served on pretrial home confinement with electronic monitoring rendered his sentence illegal.

The Superior Court began by explaining that credit towards one’s sentence is governed by statute. The statute at issue requires that credit against the maximum term and any minimum term shall be given to the defendant for all time spent in custody as a result of the criminal charge for which a prison sentence is imposed or as a result of the conduct on which such a charge is based. Further, it requires that credit shall include credit for time spent in custody prior to trial, during trial, pending sentence, and pending the resolution of an appeal.

The Superior Court noted that prior case law has defined “time spent in custody” as including time spent as a patient confined to a rehabilitation and treatment facility as a condition of bail. Further, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has distinguished such an instance from release on bail subject to electronic monitoring, holding that the latter does not qualify as custody for purposes of calculating credit against a sentence of incarceration.

While acknowledging that release on any form of bail necessarily restricts one’s liberty, the Superior Court noted that release to one’s home on bail subject to electronic monitoring does not reach the level of restriction that necessarily attends placement in an institutional setting.

Accordingly, the appellate court held that Dixon’s time spent subject to electronic monitoring at home was not time spent in “custody” for purposes of receiving credit toward his sentence.

*(Ed. Note – while realizing that the proper phrasing is “… isn’t the same as being in custody,” it is hoped it had the intended effect of you reading this blog.)


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