State v. Floyd

Decision Date22 February 2000
Docket NumberNo. 98-2062-CR.,98-2062-CR.
Citation2000 WI 14,232 Wis.2d 767,606 N.W.2d 155
PartiesSTATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Warrick D. FLOYD, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtWisconsin Supreme Court

For the defendant-appellant there were briefs and oral argument by David D. Leeper, Madison.

For the plaintiff-respondent the cause was argued by Lara M. Herman, assistant attorney general, with whom on the brief was James E. Doyle, attorney general.

¶ 1. ANN WALSH BRADLEY, J.

This case is before the court on certification from the court of appeals pursuant to Wis. Stat. (Rule) § 809.61 (1997-98).1 The defendant, Warrick D. Floyd, asserts that he is entitled to sentence credit for the time he spent in confinement on an armed robbery charge that was dismissed and read in for purposes of sentencing. Because we determine that Wis. Stat. § 973.155(1) requires sentence credit for confinement on charges that are dismissed and read in at sentencing, we reverse and remand for a recalculation of Floyd's sentence credit.

¶ 2. The facts are undisputed. On February 5, 1997, Floyd was charged with recklessly endangering safety while armed with a dangerous weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, fourth-degree sexual assault, disorderly conduct, and criminal trespass. He was released on a $3,500 personal recognizance bond. Subsequently, the State filed a four-count information including all of the charges with the exception of the sexual assault charge. Floyd's recognizance bond was not modified until it was revoked upon his guilty plea to the reckless endangerment charge on September 19, 1997.

¶ 3. While free on bond, Floyd was arrested on April 15, 1997 for armed robbery. The court set a $15,000 cash bond for his release on the armed robbery charge. Unable to post bond, Floyd remained in custody from April 15, 1997 until November 18, 1997, the date of the sentencing hearing.

¶ 4. As part of a plea agreement, the State agreed to dismiss the armed robbery charge and file a lesser charge of felony bail jumping.2 On September 19, 1997, Floyd pled guilty to both the original reckless endangerment charge and the felony bail jumping charge with the understanding that all remaining charges, including the armed robbery charge, would be dismissed and read in at sentencing. The circuit court then ordered a pre-sentence report.

¶ 5. The description of the armed robbery charge contained in the report was both lengthy and detailed. An equal amount of discussion was devoted to the read-in armed robbery charge as to the reckless endangerment charge. The victim impact statement in the report also related the serious consequences of Floyd's armed robbery charge, describing the victim's various psychological and financial problems.

¶ 6. On November 18, 1997, all of the dismissed charges, including the armed robbery charge, were read in at the sentencing hearing. On the reckless endangerment charge, Floyd received the maximum sentence of five years.3 The circuit court withheld sentencing on the bail jumping charge and placed Floyd on five years probation, consecutive to the sentence of five years imprisonment. ¶ 7. Upon an inquiry by the court as to the appropriate sentence credit on the reckless endangerment charge, Floyd's attorney requested 217 days of credit for the time Floyd spent in custody from the date of his arrest on armed robbery to the date of sentencing. Challenging that calculation, the State suggested Floyd was entitled to only 61 days of credit for the period between his plea to reckless endangerment on September 19 and the sentencing on November 18. In response, Floyd's attorney altered his position and agreed with the State's computation of sentence credit. The court then ordered that 61 days of credit be applied towards the sentence for reckless endangerment.

¶ 8. Subsequently, Floyd filed a post-conviction motion seeking to remedy the inadequate award of sentence credit.4 He alleged that under Wis. Stat. § 973.155(1) he was entitled to an additional 157 days of credit for the period he remained in custody from April 15, 1997, the date of his arrest on the charge of armed robbery, to September 19, 1997, the date of his guilty plea. Since the armed robbery charge was read in and considered by the court at sentencing, Floyd claimed that he was entitled to the days spent in custody on that charge.

¶ 9. The State moved to dismiss the post-conviction motion on the basis that Floyd's custody on the armed robbery charge was not connected to the conduct for which the sentence was imposed in the reckless endangerment case. The circuit court granted the State's motion and denied Floyd additional sentence credit, observing that he was not entitled to credit "for any time he spent on the armed robbery charge unless and until he is convicted of that charge."

¶ 10. Floyd filed a notice of appeal, renewing his post-conviction arguments and supplementing his statutory sentence credit argument with a constitutional claim that the denial of sentence credit based on his indigency constituted a violation of equal protection. The court of appeals subsequently presented for certification the following question on the issue of sentence credit:

[W]hether a dismissed charge that is read in for the purpose of sentencing on another conviction is "in connection with the course of conduct for which sentence was imposed," or constitutes "an offense for which the offender is ultimately sentenced" within the meaning of Wis. Stat. § 973.155(1).5

[1]

¶ 11. Our inquiry, as set forth in the certified question, begins with an examination of Wis. Stat. § 973.155(1), the statutory basis of Floyd's claim. Statutory interpretation presents a question of law that we decide independently of the determinations rendered by the circuit court or court of appeals. Antwaun A. v. Heritage Mut. Ins. Co., 228 Wis. 2d 44, 54, 596 N.W.2d 456 (1999). [2, 3]

¶ 12. The goal of statutory interpretation is to discern the intent of the legislature in enacting the statutory provision. Our first step in the interpretation of a statute focuses on its plain language. State v. Gilbert, 115 Wis. 2d 371, 377, 340 N.W.2d 511 (1983). If the plain language proves ambiguous, we look beyond the language to examine the scope, history, context, and purpose of the statute. State v. Cardenas-Hernandez, 219 Wis. 2d 516, 538, 579 N.W.2d 678 (1998). A statute is ambiguous if reasonable, well-informed persons may differ as to its meaning. State ex rel. Jacobus v. State, 208 Wis. 2d 39, 48, 559 N.W.2d 900 (1997).

¶ 13. Wisconsin Stat. § 973.155 governs sentence credit and states in pertinent part:

(1)(a) A convicted offender shall be given credit toward the service of his or her sentence for all days spent in custody in connection with the course of conduct for which sentence was imposed. As used in this subsection, "actual days spent in custody" includes, without limitation by enumeration, confinement related to an offense for which the offender is ultimately sentenced, or for any other sentence arising out of the same course of conduct, which occurs:
1. While the offender is awaiting trial;
2. While the offender is being tried; and
3. While the offender is awaiting imposition of sentence after trial.

Since neither Floyd nor the State dispute that Floyd's confinement constitutes "custody" under the statute, the two critical phrases for the purposes of our analysis are: "in connection with the course of conduct for which sentence was imposed" and "related to an offense for which the offender is ultimately sentenced."6

¶ 14. Floyd sets forth two principal arguments in support of his claim that he is entitled to credit under Wis. Stat. § 973.155(1). First, he maintains that under the plain meaning of the first phrase, "in connection with the course of conduct for which sentence was imposed," he should receive sentence credit for the period spent in custody on the armed robbery charge. He asserts that it was connected to the reckless endangerment charge by virtue of being dismissed and read in at sentencing in exchange for a plea to reckless endangerment. Since the dismissal and subsequent read-in of the armed robbery charge are procedurally "connected" to the "course of conduct" for which the sentence was imposed, Floyd contends that such a link represents yet another type of significant connection that meets the requirement for sentence credit.

¶ 15. However, the proposition that a procedural connection may satisfy the statutory requirement has already been rejected by a court addressing a similar scenario. In State v. Beiersdorf, 208 Wis. 2d 492, 561 N.W.2d 749 (Ct. App. 1997), the defendant was charged with bail jumping for violating the conditions of his personal recognizance bond on a sexual assault charge. Unable to post cash bail in his bail jumping case, the defendant remained in custody for 44 days.

¶ 16. The defendant subsequently pled guilty to both sexual assault and bail jumping and received a sentence of ten years imprisonment for sexual assault. His sentence of five years imprisonment for bail jumping was stayed in favor of probation. He then sought sentence credit towards the sexual assault sentence for the 44 days spent in custody in his bail jumping case. The defendant asserted that these 44 days were "in connection with the course of conduct for which sentence was imposed," because they resulted from his violation of the conditions of the bond on the sexual assault charge.

¶ 17. The court dismissed the defendant's interpretation of Wis. Stat. § 973.155(1), reasoning that although a defendant's custody may have some partial connection to another crime, "that does not mean that the custody, for credit purposes, is related to `the course of conduct for which sentence was imposed.'" Id. at 498. Beiersdorf underscores that a factual connection fulfills the statutory requirement for sentence credit, and that a procedural or other...

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