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In re J.A.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark

April 24, 2018

IN RE: J.A., A MINOR CHILD

          Civil appeal from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case No. 2013JCR02758

          For - Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO Stark County Prosecutor

          For - Appellant VICTORIA BADER Office of Public Defender

          JUDGES: Hon. John W. Wise, P.J. Hon. W. Scott Gwin, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.

          OPINION

          Gwin, J.

         {¶1} Appellant-minor J.A. appeals the September 6, 2017 Judgment Entry of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division overruling his Motion to Vacate.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} The instant appeal concerns the calculation and awarding of credit for time spent by J.A. in confinement during the entirety of his six delinquency dispositions in the juvenile justice system.

         Case Number 2013 JCR 02758

         {¶3} On December 4, 2013, a complaint was filed in Stark County Juvenile Court, case number 2013 JCR 02758, alleging that then 14-year-old J.A. was a delinquent child for committing one count of rape, in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b), a felony of the first degree if committed by an adult. On February 11, 2014, J.A. entered a plea of True and was adjudicated a delinquent child. J.A. was remanded to the Multi-County Juvenile Attention Center ["MJAC"] pending a Dispositional Hearing scheduled for March 2, 2014.

         {¶4} By Judgment Entry filed March 6, 2014, the juvenile court sentenced J. A. on the original Complaint to a minimum commitment to the Department of Youth Services ["DYS"] for a minimum period of one year. That commitment was stayed and J.A. was given Community Control and released to the custody of The Village Network. Temporary custody was granted to the Stark County Department of Jobs and Family Services. ["SCDJFS"][1].

          Case Number 2013 JCR 00289

         {¶5} On February 17, 2016, a second complaint alleging a Violation of a Prior Court Order was filed in case number 2016 JCR 00289, alleging that J.A. was a delinquent child for violating the terms of his court-ordered probation for case number 2013 JCR 02758. By Judgment Entry filed March 22, 2016, J.A. was adjudicated delinquent of the probation violation; however, no disposition was ordered[2] J.A. was released back to the custody of The Village Network.

         Case Number 2016 JCR 1231

         {¶6} On June 3, 2016, a third complaint was filed in case number 2016 JCR 01231, alleging that on May 24, 2016, J.A. was a delinquent child for Violation of a Prior Court Order in violation of R.C. 2152.02. J. A. entered a plea of Not True. By Judgment Entry filed July 8, 2016, the juvenile court granted the state's motion and dismissed the complaint.

         Case Number 2016 JCR 01450

         {¶7} On July 7, 2016, a fourth complaint was filed in case number 2016 JCR 01450, alleging that on May 18, 2016, J.A. was a delinquent child for Violation of a Prior Court Order in violation of R.C. 2152.02. On August 5, 2016, J.A. was adjudicated delinquent and remanded to the MJAC pending a Dispositional Hearing scheduled for August 29, 2016[3]

          {¶8} By Judgment Entry filed August 30, 2016, the Juvenile Court sentenced J.A. to 90-days in the MJAC, with credit for 87 days served. J.A. was ordered to serve the remaining 3 days beginning August 29, 2016 and ending August 31, 2016. The Juvenile Court further ordered that J.A. successfully complete the program at Mohican Youth Academy[4].

         Case Number 2016 JCR 02383

         {¶9} On November 18, 2016, a fifth complaint was filed in case number 2016 JCR 02383, alleging that on or about November 8, 2016 J.A. was a delinquent child for Violation of a Prior Court Order in violation of R.C. 2152.02. J. A. entered a plea of Not True. By Judgment Entry filed January 4, 2016, the juvenile court granted the state's motion and dismissed the complaint. No disposition was entered[5].

         Case Number 2017 JCR 00845

         {¶10} On May 2, 2017, a sixth complaint was filed in Case Number 2017 JCR 00845, alleging that on or about April 9, 2017 and on or about May 1, 2017 J.A. was a delinquent child for two Violations of a Prior Court Order in violation of R.C. 2152.02. J.A. entered pleas of True on May 12, 2017. The juvenile Court remanded J.A. to the MJAC pending a Dispositional Hearing scheduled for June 12, 2017.

         {¶11} By Judgment Entry filed June 20, 2017, the Juvenile Court rescinded the stay on the prior commitment to DYS and ordered that the prior orders in case number 2013 JCR 02758 and case number 2017 JCR 00845 be imposed. J.A. was committed to DYS for a minimum of one year and no more than his attainment of the age of 21-years. See, Judgment Entry, filed June 20, 2017; T. June 12, 2017 at 21. The Juvenile Court credited J.A. with 41-days confinement towards his minimum DYS sentence.

         {¶12} On August 21, 2017, J.A. filed a Motion to Vacate. J.A. argued that the Court failed to award him all the confinement time credit to which he was entitled.

         {¶13} By Judgment Entry filed September 6, 2017, the Juvenile Court overruled JA's motion to vacate; however, the Court awarded J.A. an additional 89 days credit for confinement between December 4, 2013 and March 3, 2014.

         Assignment of Error

         {¶14} J.A. raises one assignment of error, {¶15} "I. THE STARK COUNTY JUVENILE COURT ERRED WHEN IT DENIED JA'S MOTION TO VACATE HIS VOID COMMITMENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH SERVICES, BECAUSE THE COURT FAILED TO CREDIT HIM FOR TIME CONFINED IN CONNECTION TO HIS OFFENSE. IN RE D.S., 148 OHIO ST.3D 390, 2016-OHIO-7369, 71 N.E.3D 223; FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION; OHIO CONSTITUTION, ARTICLE I, SECTION 16."

         Law and Analysis

         {¶16} J.A. contends he is entitled to the total number of days that he has been confined in connection with the delinquent child complaint upon which the order of commitment is based, including time served pending adjudication and disposition for the original complaint as well as any time served pending adjudication for the subsequent violation of a prior court order cases. J.A. argues he is entitled to credit for 473 days of confinement.

          STANDARD OF APPELLATE REVIEW

         {¶17} "When a court's judgment is based on an erroneous interpretation of the law, an abuse-of-discretion standard is not appropriate. See Swartzentruber v. Orrville Grace Brethren Church, 163 Ohio App.3d 96, 2005-Ohio-4264, 836 N.E.2d 619, ¶ 6; Huntsman v. Aultman Hosp., 5th Dist. No. 2006 CA 00331, 2008-Ohio-2554, 2008 WL 2572598, ¶ 50.' Med. Mut. of Ohio v. Schlotterer, 122 Ohio St.3d 181, 2009-Ohio-2496, 909 N.E.2d 1237, ¶ 13." State v. Fugate, 117 Ohio St.3d 261, 2008-Ohio-856, 883 N.E.2d 440, ¶6. Because the assignment of error involves the interpretation of a statute, which is a question of law, we review the trial court's decision de novo. Med. Mut. of Ohio v. Schlotterer, 122 Ohio St.3d 181, 2009-Ohio-2496, 909 N.E.2d 1237, ¶ 13; Accord, State v. Pariag, 137 Ohio St.3d 81, 2013-Ohio-4010, 998 N.E.2d 401, ¶ 9; Hurt v. Liberty Township, Delaware County, OH, 5th Dist. Delaware No. 17 CAI 05 0031, 2017-Ohio-7820, ¶ 31.

         A. Jail-time Credit.

         {¶18} With respect to jail-time credit, the Ohio Supreme Court has instructed the courts that,

The practice of awarding jail-time credit, although now covered by state statute, has its roots in the Equal Protection Clauses of the Ohio and United States Constitutions. Recognizing that the Equal Protection Clause does not tolerate disparate treatment of defendants based solely on their economic status, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down rules and practices that discriminate against defendants based solely on their inability to pay fines and fees. See Griffin v. Illinois (1956), 351 U.S. 12, 76 S.Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891 (a state cannot deny appellate review to defendants unable to afford a transcript); Williams v. Illinois (1970), 399 U.S. 235, 90 S.Ct. 2018, 26 L.Ed.2d 586 (a state may not imprison a defendant beyond the statutory maximum based solely on his inability to pay a fine); Tate v. Short (1971), 401 U.S. 395, 91 S.Ct. 668, 28 L.Ed.2d 130 (a state may not impose a fine as a sentence and then automatically convert it to jail time based upon the defendant's inability to immediately pay the fine). Relying on the principle set forth in such cases, courts have held that defendants who are unable to afford bail must be credited for the time they are confined while awaiting trial. "The Equal Protection Clause requires that all time spent in any jail prior to ...

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