Sexually Dangerous Offenders

Period in confinement pending civil commitment determination not applicable as “credit” toward time served for criminal sentence

United States v. Hass, 575 Fed. Appx. 139 (4th Cir. 2014) (unpublished per curiam opinion)

In appealing the district court’s judgment revoking his supervised release and sentencing him to eighteen months in prison followed by an additional thirty months of supervised release, defendant Johnny Hass argued that the district court erred in fashioning his sentence by refusing to factor in time he spent in Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) custody awaiting civil commitment proceedings. After the Government certified that Hass qualified as a sexually dangerous person under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Child Safety Act of 2006, the court stayed his release pending the outcome of a hearing to determine whether Hass was sexually dangerous. After his supervised release was revoked and a new prison sentence imposed by the district court, Hass argued on appeal to the Fourth Circuit that he should have been granted credit for time served equal to the time he spent in BOP custody awaiting his civil commitment hearing.

Given the deference due to the district court, the Fourth Circuit stated it would only reverse if the sentence imposed was “plainly unreasonable.” A sentence can be either procedurally or substantively unreasonable. Procedural reasonability is determined by examining the district court’s consideration of “applicable 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) (2012) factors and the policy statements contained in Chapter Seven of the Guidelines.” Substantive reasonability is determined by examining whether the district court stated a “proper basis for concluding that the defendant should receive the sentence imposed.”

The Fourth Circuit rejected Hass’ claim that failing to give him credit for his prior time spent in BOP custody was a basis for plain error, stating that “it is unthinkable to lend support to any judicial decision which permits the establishment of a line of credit for future crimes.” Because Hass “was being sentenced for violating the terms of his supervised release” and cited “no precedent to support his claim that over-service of a prior sentence is even a proper consideration for a court when imposing a revocation sentence,” the Fourth Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court.

Found in DMHL Volume 34 Issue 1