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Hoffman v. Hansen

Supreme Court of Montana

April 23, 2019

SAWNTAE MONIQUE HOFFMAN, Petitioner,
v.
JENNIE HANSEN, Warden, Montana Women's Prison, Respondent.

          ORDER

          Representing herself, Sawntae Monique Hoffman petitions this Court for habeas corpus relief, arguing that the Department of Corrections (DOC) has calculated her sentence incorrectly thereby illegally extending her parole eligibility and discharge dates. Hoffman includes copies of final judgments from the Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County. She did not include a copy of any sentence calculation.

         Hoffman explains her criminal history, and we supplement it with available electronic records. She pleaded guilty to felony deceptive practices (common scheme) on February 13, 2014. The District Court imposed a six-year suspended sentence to the DOC and gave her credit for pre-trial detention from November 13, 2013 through January 27, 2014. The court also ordered Hoffman to enroll in and complete successfully the District's Drug Court. The court noted that if her suspended sentence were revoked, then the maximum sentence would be five years and two hundred eighty-six days, allowing for her credit of pretrial detention.

         Hoffman states that this sentence was revoked. On April 17, 2017, the District Court found that Hoffman had violated the terms and conditions of her suspended sentence. The court imposed a commitment to the DOC for five years and two hundred eighty-six days with two years suspended (2017 sentence upon revocation). The court awarded her credit for pretrial detention from March 19, 2017 through April 17, 2017. Hoffman further states that she re-offended in 2018. On October 4, 2018, Hoffman pleaded guilty to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and received a three-year DOC sentence (2018 DOC sentence). On that same day, she entered a plea of guilty to felony robbery and received a five-year DOC commitment with two years suspended to run concurrently with her 2018 DOC sentence.

         Hoffman raises three issues in her petition. She first questions why she was not given credit for the sixteen months of successful completion of Drug Court in June 2015. She contends that the DOC's sentence calculation sheet does not match her calculations or how she understood her sentences in the three criminal cases. She believes that all sentences were to run concurrently. Lastly, she knew she would have her first parole appearance before the Board of Pardons and Parole after 120 days of clear conduct, but she claims a mistake with the date of her appearance. She states that it should have been November 2018 and not January 2019.

         The answers to many of Hoffman's questions are found in the judgment for her 2017 sentence upon revocation. In its Order of Revocation and Imposition of Sentence, the District Court specifically denied credit for street time, the time she spent on probation while attending Drug Court. The court said:

THE COURT FINDS the Defendant is not entitled to receive credit for elapsed time while not incarcerated pursuant to § 46-18-203 (7)(b), MCA. Denial of credit for elapsed time is based on Defendant's failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the sentence while under supervision.

         Order of Revocation and Imposition of Sentence, at 1 (Mont. Thirteenth Judicial Dist. Ct. Apr. 20, 2017) (emphasis in original). The court gave its reasons for why Hoffman is not . entitled to this credit for sixteen months in Drug Court. Section 46-18-203(7)(b), MCA.

         Hoffman's 2017 sentence upon revocation is the controlling sentence and does not run concurrent to any other sentences. '"Controlling sentence' means the sentence(s) that, based on a district court judgment, requires the longest period of time served to parole eligibility." Admin. R. M. 20.25.202(3) (2016). The District Court in Hoffman's original sentence and the 2017 sentence upon revocation did not specifically whether the sentences would run concurrently to or consecutive with other sentences. In 2014, Hoffman had only one sentence. However, by 2018, she had three sentences, and only two were ordered to run concurrently. Pursuant to § 46-18-401(1), MCA, "[s]eparate sentences for two or more offenses must run consecutively unless the court otherwise orders." Here, the District Court did not specify the running of the 2017 sentence upon revocation; therefore, this sentence runs consecutively to her other sentences. Any custodial time for the 2017 sentence upon revocation must be completed prior to being eligible for a parole appearance. This additional time would explain the delay for her initial appearance before the Board.

         The writ of habeas corpus allows inquiry "into the cause of imprisonment or restraint and, if illegal, [delivery] from the imprisonment or restraint." Section 46-22-101(1), MCA. Hoffman, based upon the information presented, has failed to meet her burden of persuading the Court that the DOC illegally extended her parole eligibility or discharge dates. Miller v. Eleventh Judicial Dist. Ct, 2007 MT 58, ¶ 14, 336 Mont. 207, 154 P.3d 1186. She is not entitled to another sentence calculation by the DOC, nor is she incarcerated unlawfully.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Hoffman's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED.

         The Clerk of the Supreme Court is directed to provide a copy of this Order to counsel of record and to ...


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