The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled house arrest doesn't count as "time served" at sentencing.
The court granted a petition by the Washoe District Attorney's office seeking to cancel the 297 days credit granted Anna Marie Jackson for the time she was on house arrest as a condition of her bail.
She was convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana in connection with a September 2002 accident that resulted in the death of Reno Police Officer Michael Scofield.
At sentencing, her lawyer asked for credit for the house arrest and the Division of Parole and Probation recommended the court grant the request. She was sentenced to 24-96 months in prison and granted 297 days credit against that sentence.
Prosecutors later asked the court to reconsider that motion but the court concluded it lacked the jurisdiction to modify her sentence after the fact, in part because the prosecution didn't make a timely objection.
The high court, in an opinion by Justice Jim Hardesty, agreed to take up the issue saying it raises an important issue that must be clarified.
The opinion states legislative intent suggests the law was designed to allow credit for pre-sentence time spent in the county jail, not for time spent on house arrest.
"We consider it unlikely that the Legislature would have defined confinement so broadly as to allow a convicted defendant to circumvent a mandatory prison sentence through time spent on house arrest," the opinion states.
It points out there are "substantial differences" between house arrest and incarceration in the county jail since Jackson was free to do shopping and other errands and even traveled to California to get married during that period.
"We conclude that Jackson's house arrest was merely a reasonable condition imposed upon her release on bail, and we hold that house arrest does not constitute time 'actually spent in confinement' for which the duration of a sentence may be credited," the opinion concludes.
It was signed by Hardesty and fellow justices Bob Rose and Mark Gibbons.
- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.