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Colorado Supreme: No Presentence Confinement Credit

The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that Section 18-1.3-405, C.R.S. (2017) prevents the award of presentence confinement credit (PSCC) in cases involving multiple charges or jurisdictions unless the case under review is the sole cause for detention and the prisoner would have been released if that charge did not exist.

In 2004, Amber Torrez was arrested in Denver County for a Denver County murder and an unrelated Jefferson County assault. She was held in Denver County until her December 2006 trial that resulted in a “not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) verdict, followed by her placement in the Colorado Mental Health Institute Pueblo (CMHIP).

In June of 2008, Torrez was found competent to proceed in the Jefferson County trial. She pled guilty and was sentenced to serve 10 years.  She moved the trial court to award her 1,579 days PSCC. She argued that she was in custody at all times on both charges and could not receive PSCC on the Denver charge because no sentence was imposed for a NGRI verdict, so no PSCC had been awarded.

The trial court held that Torrez was not entitled to PSCC on the Jefferson case because that was not the sole cause of her detention and she would not have been released from confinement even if the Jefferson charge did not exist.

The appellate court reversed the trial court’s denial of any PSCC because it concluded that Torrez had spent 86 days in Jefferson County custody and was entitled to that PSCC.

The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s holding and sided with the trial court’s conclusion that where the Jefferson charge was not the sole cause or “substantial nexus” for her confinement and she would not have been released from confinement if that charge did not exist, Section 18-1.3-405, C.R.S. (2017) did not allow PSCC on that charge.

Justice Marquez dissented to state that Colorado statutes mandate that every prisoner be awarded PSCC for every day spent in confinement.  Marquez argued that it was clear that Torrez was arrested on both Denver County and Jefferson County charges, and award on the Jefferson sentence would not be duplicative because no other sentence had been imposed, so that refusal to award 1579 days of PSCC constituted a “marked departure from statutory requirements to award full credit.

Justice Marquez also asserted that the majority created an anomaly by asking the wrong question. Marquez contended that “cause” of confinement is not exclusive, and it may exist in multiple cases, so that question to be asked is not would the person be released if this charge did not exist, but would she be held in custody if this were the only charge.

Justice Marquez dissented to opine that where no PSCC was awarded even though a relative sentence was imposed, the majority does not adhere to its own precedent requiring the award of all PSCC as served.

See: People v. Torrez, Case No. 12 SC 448, P.3d (Colo.2017).


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Related legal case

People v. Torrez