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Luna-Gonzales v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

May 23, 2019

IVAN LUNA-GONZALES, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA, Appellee.

          AN APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF PAYNE COUNTY THE HONORABLE PHILLIP CORLEY, DISTRICT JUDGE

          ROYCE HOBBS COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT

          ARIEL PARRY OKLA. INDIGENT DEFENSE COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT

          DEBRA VINCENT COUNSEL FOR THE STATE

          MIKE HUNTER JENNIFER B. WELCH COUNSEL FOR THE STATE

          OPINION

          LUMPKIN, J.

         ¶1 Appellant, Ivan Luna-Gonzales, was tried by jury and convicted of Domestic Assault and Battery with Dangerous Weapon (21 O.S.Supp.2014, § 644 (D)(1)) in District Court of Payne County Case Number CF-2016-837. The jury recommended as punishment imprisonment for two (2) years. The trial court sentenced Appellant accordingly and denied Appellant credit for the time that he spent in jail awaiting trial. It is from this judgment and sentence that Appellant appeals.

         ¶2 Appellant resided with the mother of his child in Stillwater, Payne County, Oklahoma. When the victim asked him to leave her home on October 26, 2016, Appellant repeatedly struck her with a two-by-four on the head and hand causing the victim great bodily injury requiring 14 staples. Appellant only ended his attack on the victim after her eight-year-old son cried out for him to stop. Appellant sliced his wrist with a steak knife and fled into the nearby woods. The Stillwater Police Department tracked Appellant with a canine whereupon he surrendered to the officers. Appellant denied striking the victim at trial and further denied confessing to the social worker that visited him in the jail. He asserted that the victim had injured herself. The physician that treated the victim explained that it was very unlikely that she caused her own injuries.

         ¶3 In his sole proposition of error, Appellant contends that the trial court violated 57 O.S.Supp.2015, § 138 (G) when it refused to grant him credit for the time he spent in jail while awaiting trial. He argues that the trial court misinterpreted § 138(G).

         ¶4 This Court has not had the opportunity to specifically construe § 138(G). However, the rules of statutory construction are well settled. Wells v. State, 2016 OK CR 28, ¶ 6, 387 P.3d 966, 968. Statutes are to be construed according to the plain and ordinary meaning of their language. Id.; State v. Young, 1999 OK CR 14, ¶ 27, 989 P.2d 949, 955. The fundamental principle of statutory construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the Legislature as expressed in the statute. Arganbright v. State, 2014 OK CR 5, ¶ 17, 328 P.3d 1212, 1216; Young, 1999 OK CR 14, ¶ 27, 989 P.2d at 955. "Each part of the various statutes must be given intelligent effect. This Court avoids any statutory construction which would render any part of a statute superfluous or useless." Wells, 2016 OK CR 28, ¶ 6, 387 P.3d at 968 (citations omitted).

         ¶5 Title 57 governs the State's prisons and reformatories. Section 138 of this title enacts and sets forth the requirements of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections' policies and procedures concerning inmate classification, achievement and earned credits. Section 138(G) provides:

Inmates granted medical leaves for treatment that cannot be furnished at the penal institution where incarcerated shall be allowed the time spent on medical leave as time served. Any inmate placed into administrative segregation for nondisciplinary reasons by the institution's administration may be placed in Class 2. The length of any jail term served by an inmate before being transported to a state correctional institution pursuant to a judgment and sentence of incarceration shall be deducted from the term of imprisonment at the state correctional institution. Inmates sentenced to the Department of Corrections and detained in a county jail as a result of the Department's reception scheduling procedure shall be awarded earned credits as provided for in subparagraph b of paragraph 1 of subsection D of this section, beginning on the date of the judgment and sentence, unless the inmate is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony committed in the jail while the inmate is awaiting transport to the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center or other assessment and reception location determined by the Director of the Department of Corrections.

         ¶6 It is apparent from the plain language of the statute that this statutory provision does not govern the time that a criminal defendant spends in jail while awaiting trial. Instead, it is clear from the language of § 138 and specifically subsection G that the Oklahoma Legislature intended this statutory provision to control an inmate's accrual of credit towards his or her prison sentence after the imposition of the requisite judgment and sentence. Nothing within § 138(G) requires the trial court to grant "jail credit," i.e., the deduction of the time that a criminal defendant was confined while awaiting trial from his or her final sentence. See Black's Law Dictionary 851 (8th ed. 2004).

         ¶7 This construction is consistent with our established precedent. "[I]t is a matter of well settled law that the sentencing judge in Oklahoma has discretion in deciding whether to allow a defendant credit for time served in jail before sentencing." Holloway v. State, 2008 OK CR 14, ¶ 8, 182 P.3d 845, 847; see alsoIn re Tidwell, 1957 OK CR 33, ¶ 4, 309 P.2d 302, 304 (observing that "there is no statute in Oklahoma requiring the trial court to give credit for time spent in custody prior to trial," and that "in the absence of statute the time that the defendant has spent in jail awaiting trial forms no part of the time for which he was sentenced.") (quotations and citations omitted). "While it is common practice for the trial judge to give credit for time ...


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