Petitioner James Nichols has filed a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus, indicating that he is due an additional credit
of 180 days for time served in a sentence from the
Twenty-First Judicial District Court, Ravalli County. He
attaches several documents including his attempt to correct
his judgment with the Ravalli County District Court.
provide Nichols's relevant background. On June 15, 2005,
he pleaded guilty to felony driving under the influence of
alcohol and/or drug (4th offense) (DUI) and three
misdemeanors in the Ravalli County District Court. The
District Court sentenced him to thirteen months in a
residential treatment facility followed by a five-year
suspended term. On July 6, 2010, the County Attorney for the
State of Montana filed a petition to revoke. Nichols admitted
the violations of his probationary terms and conditions. On
January 12, 2011, the District Court held a dispositional
hearing and revoked Nichols's sentence. The court imposed
a five-year commitment to the Department of Corrections to
run consecutively to a sentence from Gallatin County (2011
sentence upon revocation).
petition, Nichols explains that he spent 182 days in the
Gallatin County jail on a separate charge when, on July 7,
2010, he was served a warrant for his arrest following a
petition for revocation of a suspended sentence from the
Ravalli County District Court. He states that he was returned
to the Ravalli County jail on December 29, 2010. He
calculates that he is due this jail time from July 7 through
December 29, 2010. He cites to § 46-18-403(1), MCA, and
posits that he should be allowed this credit for each day of
incarceration. Nichols further explains that on February 15,
2019, he filed a motion for credit for time served in the
Ravalli County District Court. He notes that the County
Attorney did not oppose the motion in a filed notice. Nichols
includes a copy of his filed motion that has a handwritten
denial, stating: "Denied Defendant was credited for this
in the Gallatin County case." This denial was signed by
Judge Langton on March 18, 2019.
secured a copy of the Sentencing Order imposed in the
Gallatin County District Court, on December 20, 2010. The
District Court sentenced Nichols as a persistent felony
offender for felony DUI and imposed a twenty-year prison
sentence with fifteen years suspended (2010 sentence). The
court also awarded Nichols credit of 180 days for time
is not entitled to an additional 180 days of credit toward
his 2011 sentence upon revocation. The Ravalli County
District Court awarded him twenty-three days of credit while
detained prior to imposition of sentence, and on January 2,
2019, the court amended his 2011 sentence upon revocation for
twenty-seven days of additional credit at START. Nichols is
correct that he should receive credit for time served,
pursuant to § 46-18-403(1), MCA, but the credit for jail
time must be directly related to the offense. State v.
Kime, 2002 MT 38, ¶ 16, 308 Mont. 341, 43 P.3d 290,
overruled in part on other grounds by State v.
Herman, 2008 MT 187, ¶ 12, 343 Mont. 494, 188 P.3d
978. Here, Nichols was incarcerated because of his new
offense in Gallatin County. He is not due additional credit
for the time he spent in jail for his 2011 sentence upon
revocation because it is not directly related to his offense
acquired in 2010. See State v. Damon, 2007 MT 276,
¶ 14, 339 Mont. 413, 170 P.3d 490 (This Court applied
§ 46-18-403(1), MCA, and held that Damon could only
receive credit for time served for the offenses directly
related to his incarceration where Damon's new sentence
and a sentence upon revocation ran consecutively.). The only
way Nichols would receive more credit toward his 2011
sentence upon revocation is if the court were to run it
concurrently with his 2010 sentence. Cf. State v.
Tracy, 2005 MT 128, ¶¶ 27-28, 327 Mont. 220,
113 P.3d 297, superseded in part by statute. That
did not occur here.
corpus affords applicants an opportunity to challenge
collaterally the legality of their present incarceration.
Lott v. State, 2006 MT 279, ¶ 9, 334 Mont. 270,
150 P.3d 337; § 46-22-101(1), MCA. Nichols has not
demonstrated an illegal incarceration. Therefore, IT IS
ORDERED that Nichols's Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus is DENIED.
Clerk is directed to provide a copy of this Order to counsel
of record ...