Pre-trial defendants in county authorized home-detention programs are entitled to custody credits  

People v. Yanez (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 15, 2019, No. A156074) 2019 WL 6043474

While awaiting trial, the court had imposed home detention subject to electronic monitoring as a condition of reducing Yanez’s bail from $480,000 to $100,000. Yanez had spent 555 days on electronic home detention, in a program authorized by Alameda County.

The trial court sentenced Yanez to serve five years and eight months in state prison. The court only granted him custody credits for his 555 days of home confinement (see § 2900.5, subd. (a)), and deemed him ineligible for conduct credits. It rejected Yanez’s argument that denying him eligibility for conduct credits violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection because post-judgment home detainees are eligible for conduct credit under section 4019. Yanez appealed.

Equal Protection argument because credits are given to sentenced defendants on electronic monitoring

Summary:      No statute provides for pre-trial credits while on electronic monitoring. Yanez argued that recent amendments to Penal Code section 4019 have made conduct credits available to individuals who are placed on electronic home detention after imposition of sentence (see id., subd. (a)(7)). Therefore, denying him eligibility for conduct credits for the time he spent on in-home detention before he was sentenced violates equal protection. The Court of Appeal held that this disparity in eligibility for conduct credits between pretrial and post-judgment electronic monitoring home detainees violates equal protection. Yanez’ time spent on home detention is eligible for conduct credits notwithstanding the Legislature’s failure to provide for them in section 4019.

Statutory Background: Home Detention

Penal Code section 1203.018 authorizes counties to offer a program under which pretrial detainees being held in a county jail or correctional facility may participate in a home detention program under specified conditions. (People v. Raygoza (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 593, 599, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 347; § 1203.018, subd. (b).) The statute applies to “inmates being held in lieu of bail.” (§ 1203.018, subd. (a).) It has been construed to apply when a pretrial detainee is required to submit to home confinement in a local electronic monitoring program as a condition of a reduction in bail. (See Raygoza, at pp. 599–601, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 347.)

Penal Code section 1203.016, governs home detention post-sentencing. It authorizes counties to create electronic home detention programs in which certain inmates may be placed “during their sentence,” under specified conditions, “in lieu of confinement in a county jail or other county correctional facility or program.” Those conditions are substantially similar to the conditions applicable to pretrial detainees released on home detention under section 1203.018, including that the participant “remain within the interior premises of his or her residence during the hours designated by the correctional administrator”; “admit any person or agent designated by the correctional administrator into his or her residence at any time” for purposes of verifying compliance with the conditions of

Equal Protection Analysis

“ ‘The constitutional guaranty of equal protection of the laws has been judicially defined to mean that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances in their lives, liberty and property and in their pursuit of happiness. The concept recognizes that persons similarly situated not be treated differently unless the disparity is justified.” (People v. Leng (1999) 71 Cal.App.4th 1, 11, 83 Cal.Rptr.2d 433 (Leng).)

Thus, “ ‘[t]he first prerequisite to a meritorious claim under the equal protection clause is a showing that the state has adopted a classification that affects two or more similarly situated groups in an unequal manner.’ ” (Leng, supra, 71 Cal.App.4th at 13, 83 Cal.Rptr.2d 433, quoting In re Eric J. (1979) 25 Cal.3d 522, 530, 159 Cal.Rptr. 317, 601 P.2d 549.) “Under the equal protection clause, we do not inquire whether persons are similarly situated for all purposes, but whether they are similarly situated for purposes of the challenged law.” (People v. Rajanayagam (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 42, 53, 149 Cal.Rptr.3d 313; accord, People v. Edwards (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 183, 198, 246 Cal.Rptr.3d 40.) If there is such a disparity, then we must proceed to decide which level of scrutiny to apply.

Yanez argued “the difference in penological goals between pre-judgment and post-judgment conduct credits was eliminated for home detainees by the enactment of section 4019, subdivision (a)(7), which now gives conduct credits for time spent on post-judgment home detention.” Yanez argues that pretrial in-home detainees are similarly situated to post-judgment home detainees, and now that the Legislature has opted to make the latter eligible for conduct credits, equal protection principles compel that the former be eligible too.

Pretrial home detainees such as Yanez who are placed in a statutorily authorized electronic monitoring program and their postjudgment counterparts are “ ‘sufficiently similar to merit application of some level of scrutiny to determine whether distinctions between the two groups justify the unequal treatment.’ ” (People v. Hofsheier (2006) 37 Cal.4th 1185, 1200, 39 Cal.Rptr.3d 821, 129 P.3d 29, overruled on other grounds, Johnson v. Department of Justice (2015) 60 Cal.4th 871, 882, 183 Cal.Rptr.3d 96, 341 P.3d 1075 (Johnson);

The Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Sage, supra, 26 Cal.3d 498, , which addressed an analogous disparity and its holding implied that pretrial felony detainees were similarly situated to felony convicts for purposes of earning conduct credits.

The Court found no legitimate, much less a compelling, reason for treating people participating in an electronic monitoring program on home detention while awaiting trial and sentencing differently for purposes of conduct credits than someone serving a sentence in an electronic monitoring program. Both are subjected to similarly restrictive conditions and both are avoiding spending time in jail or other local custody. And the People point to no difference in the manner in which either category is confined. Even under deferential rational basis review, a statutory classification must be “ ‘rationally related to [a] “realistically conceivable legislative purpose[ ],” ’ ” not a “ ‘fictitious purpose[ ] that could not have been within the contemplation of the Legislature’ ” but is simply invented by the court. (Warden v. State Bar (1999) 21 Cal.4th 628, 648, 88 Cal.Rptr.2d 283, 982 P.2d 154; accord, Johnson, supra, 60 Cal.4th at p. 903, 183 Cal.Rptr.3d 96, 341 P.3d 1075 (dis. opn. of Werdegar, J.) [citing, inter alia, Sage].) The People have suggested none. As Yanez puts it, “[u]nder the current statutory framework, a pre-trial jail detainee and post-sentence jailed convict both receive conduct credits, but a pre-judgment home detainee and post-judgment home detainee are not given the same equal treatment. There is no legitimate reason for this to be so.”

 

DISPOSITION

The Court directed the trial court to calculate the amount of conduct credit for which Yanez is entitled under section 4019, amend the abstract of judgment accordingly and forward a certified copy of the amended abstract of judgment to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.