State v. Byrd

State v. Byrd, 2015 MT 20 (Jan. 27, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in imposing $800 in public defender fees in the written judgment after imposing $500 in the oral pronouncement; and (2) whether the district court erred in denying Byrd credit for time served in a residential treatment facility.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) no.

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: Amanda Byrd was convicted of fraudulently obtaining dangerous drugs, a felony, in 2008. In January 2011 she was charged with a second offense of the same crime. In exchange for her guilty plea to a single count, the parties agreed to an 8-year sentence to the DOC, with 3 years suspended. The plea included a recommendation that Byrd be screened for chemical dependency and, if appropriate, enter and complete a treatment program. Byrd agreed to pay $500 in public defender fees.

At the change of plea hearing, the district court offered to help Byrd secure placement in the Family Treatment Court (FTC) rather than the Elkhorn Treatment Program. Byrd entered an FTC contract in September 2011, and was accepted into a treatment program in Billings. The court held a hearing and explained the importance of Byrd adhering to the terms and conditions of treatment, and stayed sentencing pending her successful completion of treatment.

Byrd remained in treatment for 12 months. In December and January 2013, Byrd was in court numerous times, and the state moved for and received a bench warrant.

Procedural Posture & Holding: On March 7, 2013, Byrd was sentenced to 8 years with DOC, with 3 years suspended. The court recommended placement at Elkhorn and imposed 29 probationary conditions and ordered her to pay $500 in public defender fees. Byrd’ counsel asked that she be given credit for the time she was in treatment in Billings but the court denied the request. The written judgment ordered Byrd to pay $800 in PD fees. Byrd appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms in part and reverses in part.

Reasoning: (1) The state concedes the district court’s error in imposing a greater obligation on Byrd in the written sentence than it had at the oral sentencing. The Supreme Court reverses and instructs the district court to amend the judgment.

(2) Byrd contends the 12 months she spent at the residential treatment facility in Billings was “incarceration” for which she must be given credit. MCA § 46-18-403(1). “Incarceration” is not a defined term in the code; however, its use in § 46-18-201(3)(a)(iii), MCA, leads the Court to conclude the legislature does not deem a treatment facility to be a place of incarceration. The legislature could do so, as it has in other states, but it has not.