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Denial of Washington Misdemeanor Electronic Monitoring Credit Upheld

The Washington State Court of Appeals held that refusing to grant misdemeanor offenders credit for electronic home monitoring, while granting such credit to felons does not deprive misdemeanants of equal protection or due process of law. The court also held that electronic home monitoring is not punishment for purposes of double jeopardy.

Joshua Harris was charged with two Washington misdemeanor offenses. On October 22, 2007, he posted bail and was released on electronic home monitoring as a condition of pretrial release.

On January 7, 2008, Harris pleaded guilty to both charges and was sentenced to 90 days in jail on March 7, 2008. The sentencing court refused to credit Harris with the 140 days he served on electronic home monitoring.

On March 31, 2008 – nine days before he was required to begin serving his sentence – Harris filed a habeas corpus petition, seeking an order that the municipal court grant him credit for his time on electronic home monitoring. The superior court granted the writ and Harris was granted 90 days of credit against his 90-day sentence.

The Washington Court of Appeals reversed. Applying the rational basis test, the court observed that "the sentencing systems for felonies and misdemeanors are significantly different." Considering those differences, the court held that "there is a rational basis for treating misdemeanants differently from felons in this context. The misdemeanor courts retain discretion to give credit for time served pretrial on electronic home monitoring, but they are not obliged to do so." Therefore, the court concluded that denial of time served credit did not deprive Harris of equal protection of the law. It rejected his due process argument "for the same reason; the decision of the district court was not arbitrary or unfair."

The court finally held that electronic home monitoring is not punishment for purposes of a double jeopardy violation. Since Harris failed "to establish that he was constitutionally entitled to" credit for time served on electronic home monitoring, the court held that "the superior court erred in granting the writ." See: Harris v. Charles, 171 Wash.2d 455, 256 P.3d 328 (Wa. 2011).

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Related legal case

Harris v. Charles