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Home detention counts toward convicts' prison time, Md. court rules.

Byline: Steve Lash

ANNAPOLIS Convicts must get credit toward their prison sentences for the time they serve in home detention while waiting for their appeals to be decided, Marylands second highest court has held. Though they are home, the convicts remain in custody, as they are still under restrictions imposed and enforced by the state, including prohibitions on travel and alcohol consumption, the Court of Special Appeals held. The detained convicts can also be charged with escape if they violate the restrictions, the court added Friday in its reported, 3-0 decision. Convicts under home detention remain in incarcerative detention, not mere supervision, Judge Douglas R.M. Nazarian wrote for the court. The detention is involuntary and pursuant to a court commitment to a public institution, he added. The courts decision marked the first time it held home detention can count toward a convicts prison sentence. The court had previously held home detention prior to trial could count as time served in the event of a defendants conviction. The decision means Martaz Johnson, a former transit officer convicted of misconduct and assault, will get credit for the year he spent in home detention while an ultimately unsuccessful appeal was being decided. The state had argued Johnson should not get time credit because he was not in the custody of a correctional facility as stated in the Maryland Criminal Procedure Article while at home on a $25,000 appeal bond. A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge had accepted that argument, but the Court of Special Appeals disagreed. Home-detained convicts are in custody when they face substantial restrictions on (their) freedom of association, activity and movement, as was the case with Johnson, Nazarian wrote. Johnson was confined to his home, tracked constantly by an ankle bracelet, barred from drinking alcohol, subject to random drug tests, required to permit agents of a private monitoring company to enter his house and subject to prosecution for escape if a violation were found, Nazarian wrote. The Maryland attorney generals office said in statement Monday it is reviewing the decision to determine any future litigation. Assistant Maryland Public Defender Kiran Iyer, Johnsons appellate attorney, declined to comment Monday on the courts ruling. Nazarian was joined in the opinion by Judges Kevin F. Arthur and Robert A. Zarnoch, a retired jurist sitting by special assignment. The court of Special Appeals rendered its decision in Martaz Johnson v. State of Maryland, No. 223, September Term 2017. The ruling followed a Court of Appeals decision last month upholding Johnsons conviction of misconduct in office and two counts of second-degree assault on a woman the former Maryland Transit Administration police officer had driven to her Baltimore home after her car was struck by an MTA bus in 2014. Johnson was sentenced to two concurrent -year terms for the assault convictions and a concurrent five-year term for misconduct, with all but 1 months suspended, beginning on Aug. 11, 2015 and ending in February 2017. On Dec. 14, 2015, Johnson was released to home detention on the appeals bond. Shortly after the Court of Special Appeals affirmed his convictions in December 2016, he sought removal from home detention and asked the circuit court for credit for the time served.

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Publication:Daily Record (Baltimore, MD)
Date:Mar 6, 2018
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