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Washington Can’t Cheat Prisoner of Time Held Out of State on Washington Charges

But ICE Makes Sure That It Doesn’t Matter

by Jacob Barrett

On July 29, 2021 the Supreme Court of Washington ruled that a state prisoner was entitled to credit for all the time he was held in custody, even time outside the state, so long as he was being held on charges from the state.
In calculating the time served by the prisoner, Juan Enriquez-Martinez, officials with the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) had deducted a period he spent locked up in Oregon on charges related to the same crimes. The Court said this math was unfair and remanded his case for recalculation to include the credit to which he was entitled on his Washington charges.

Unfortunately for the defendant, he had by that time already been deported.

The man with the bad luck in timing is Enriquez-Martinez, 40, who was first arrested in Wasco County, Oregon, in April 2014 on charges originating from the alleged child abuse of a young cousin there. While he was in custody in Oregon, additional child-abuse charges were filed against him by Klickitat County, Washington, for molesting the same cousin there. Klickitat County Superior Court then issued a warrant for his arrest and ordered that he be held without bail.

He continued to be held on both charges in the Wasco County Jail for several months until an Oregon prosecutor proposed a global plea offer to resolve all the charges, which he agreed to in May 2015, eleven months after his arrest. Another seven months passed, and Enriquez-Martinez was transferred to Washington, where he kept his end of the bargain and pleaded guilty to the charges against him there.

As part of the judgment, the Washington court ordered that he receive “credit for time served prior to sentencing if that confinement was solely under this cause number.” Then he was returned to Oregon for two months in 2016 to complete his plea bargain with a guilty plea on charges there.

He was returned to Washington to serve his concurrent sentences from both states. But the Washington DOC declined to credit him for any of the 20 months he had served in Oregon. Enriquez-Martinez filed a motion with a new Klickitat County judge—the one who sentenced him had by then retired—asking the court to correct his sentence and make clear that he was entitled to credit for all the time he had served after the county’s warrant was served. The judge denied his motion. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed.

On review in the Supreme Court of Washington, the state argued that because Enriquez-Martinez was held on a no­bail warrant, he was not entitled to credit for time served. The Court rejected that argument because “our constitution does not allow us to treat offenders who cannot obtain bail differently from those who can.”

“Simply put,” the Court continued, “a defendant is entitled to credit for all the time they were confined on charges prior to sentencing”—regardless of how many charges they were held on.

The Court stressed, however, “that an offender is not entitled to credit for time held on a pending charge if they simultaneously were serving time on a sentence already imposed in another case.... [n]or are they entitled to credit on a charge for time they are also serving on a parole or probation violation.”

Accordingly, the Court of Appeals verdict was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings for recalculation of the credit to which the defendant was entitled.

As a practical matter, though, the decision had little effect for Enriquez-Martinez. DOC had by then already transferred the undocumented immigrant to the custody of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in February 2021. An immigration judge ordered him removed from the U.S. on March 10, 2021, and ICE deported him back to his native Mexico—over four months before his case made its way to the Washington Supreme Court. See: State of Washington v. Enriquez-Martinez, 198 Wn.2d 98, 492 P.3d 162 (2021).

Additional source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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Related legal case

State of Washington v. Enriquez-Martinez