himself, Charles David Ament has filed a Petition for a Writ
of Habeas Corpus, claiming that both his sentences are
illegal because he "is serving more time on [his]
sentence than was given by the courts as punishment."
Ament seeks dismissal of both sentences and his immediate
release from prison.
has three concurrent, seven-year commitments to the
Department of Corrections (DOC) in two separate proceedings
from the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County. In
March 2016, the District Court revoked his original 2010
sentence of twelve years, with seven years suspended, to the
DOC for the conviction for felony criminal possession of
dangerous drugs in which the court had designated him a
persistent felony offender. Ament, as mentioned, received a
seven-year term (2016 sentence upon revocation). In May 2016,
the court imposed two, seven-year sentences to the DOC, all
suspended, for his convictions of felony escape and felony
assault of a peace officer (2016 sentence), Through counsel
from the Office of Appellate Defender, Ament appealed his
2016 sentence upon revocation and his 2016 sentence. This
Court dismissed both appeals based upon his voluntary motions
to dismiss. State v. C. Ament, No. DA 16-0317, Or.
(Mont. Jan. 11, 2017) and State v. C.
Ament, No. DA 16-0490, Or, (Mont. Sept. 29, 2017).
petition, Ament contends that he is "in double
jeopardy." He indicates that his sentences are longer
than the law allows and that he was not afforded any credit
while on probation. Citing to Montana statutes, he states
that both his 2016 sentence upon revocation and his 2016
sentence are illegal. Sections 46-18-203(7)(a)(iii), -201,
MCA. He posits that "[the code] does not say that
suspended sentences are active probation." He next
argues that he is suffering from cruel and unusual punishment
under the United States Constitution's Eighth Amendment
because "the duration of the suspension is not
Ament correctly recites various statutory language, he does
not expound upon why these sentences are illegal under the
law. His sentences have not placed him in double jeopardy.
His 2016 sentence is within the District Court's
statutory authority. Section 46-18-201(3), (4), (8), MCA. His
2016 sentence upon revocation does not exceed the original
sentence of a twelve-year DOC commitment with seven years
suspended. Offenders are commonly sentenced to an aggregate
legal sentence that includes a prison term followed by
probation supervision. See §
46-18-201(3)(a)(viii), MCA. The revocation court has only
required Ament, who violated the conditions of his probation
supervision, to successfully complete a seven-year
sentence-as originally imposed. Section 46-18-203(7)(a)(iii),
MCA (2009). The 2016 sentence upon revocation is legally
to his claim for credit of probationary time, a District
Court does not have to credit an offender with any time on
probation. It is within the court's discretion to credit
Ament with probationary time, also known as street time.
Section 46-18-203(7)(b), MCA; McDermott v. Dep't of
Corr., 2001 MT 134, ¶ 45, 305 Mont. 462, 29 P.3d
992. The District Court rejected any credit for the time that
Ament served on probation when it found that Ament was being
sentenced on March 22, 2016, "for violation of the
conditions of the last Judgment . . . ." The court
expressly stated "[t]he reasons for this Judgment are as
1. The Court considered the Defendant's criminal history
and his dangerousness to the community.
2. The sentence gives the Defendant his need for treatment
before he can be released back into the community.
p. 2 (Mont. Fourth Judicial Dist. Ct. Apr. 1, 2016). Ament
was properly denied this credit. McDermott, ¶
argument concerning the meaning and duration of probation
lacks merit. A Montana statute defines probation as "the
release by the court without imprisonment... of a defendant
found guilty of a crime upon a verdict or plea, subject to
conditions imposed by the court and subject to the
supervision of the [DOC] upon direction of the court."
Section 46-23-1001(4), MCA. His judgments specifically refer
Ament to the custody of the DOC and list the probation
conditions. Sections 46-23-1001(4), 46-18-201(8), MCA. Ament
was convicted of his crimes upon his guilty pleas, and both
sentences specify the duration of his DOC commitment and
constitutional challenge also fails. Under habeas corpus, a
petitioner may challenge the legal sufficiency of the cause
for incarceration, but relief under the writ is not available
to adjudicate whether other constitutional rights, such as
cruel and unusual punishment concerning probation, were
violated. Gates v. Missoula County Comm'rs, 235
Mont. 261, 262-63, 766 P.2d 884, 884-85 (1988). Habeas corpus
offers no remedy under this circumstance.
has exhausted his remedy of appeal in this Court of record.
Consequently, not only does Ament's substantive arguments
fail here, but he is procedurally barred from raising these
claims under habeas corpus. Section 46-22-101(2), MCA. Having
received legal sentences, Ament cannot establish that he is
incarcerated illegally as required under habeas corpus.
Section 46-22-101(1), MCA. Further, habeas corpus is not
available to challenge collaterally the legality of an order
revoking a suspended sentence, such as Ament's 2016
sentence upon revocation. Section 46-22-101 (2), MCA.
Therefore, IT IS ORDERED that the Petition for a Writ of
Habeas Corpus is DENIED.
Clerk is directed to provide a copy of this Order to counsel
of record, and ...