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State v. Bigsby

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

August 10, 2017

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
BRANDON M. BIGSBY, Petitioner.

          GONZALEZ, J.

         Brandon Bigsby failed to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation after he was released from jail on community custody as ordered by the trial court. Both the Department of Corrections (Department) and the trial court sanctioned him for failing to comply with the court's order. At issue is whether the trial court had statutory authorization under RCW 9.94B.040 to sanction Bigsby for sentence violations committed while he was on community custody under the Department's supervision for a 2014 crime. We hold it did not and reverse.[1]

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Officers found heroin and methamphetamine in Bigsby's pockets when they apprehended him for shoplifting at Walmart on October 8, 2014. The State charged Bigsby with possession of a controlled substance. Bigsby pleaded guilty. The trial court sentenced Bigsby to 75 days of confinement and 12 months of community custody under the Department's supervision. Additionally, the trial court ordered Bigsby to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation and ordered that he return to court on August 5, 2015 for a sentence review hearing "with evaluation in hand or paperwork to prove [he] signed up for treatment, " Clerk's Papers (CP) at 34. The trial court warned Bigsby that if he did not obtain the evaluation by that date, it would sanction him to at least 30 to 60 days in confinement. Plea of Guilty & Sentencing Tr. (May 13, 2015) at 6.

         Bigsby failed to obtain a chemical dependency evaluation by the court's deadline, and the trial court sanctioned him to 30 days in confinement.[2] At the sentence review hearing, Bigsby acknowledged that he did not undergo a chemical dependency evaluation but challenged the court's authority to sanction him for his noncompliance since the statute relating to his community custody status, RCW 9, 94A.6332');">94A.6332(7), provides "any sanctions" for violations of sentence conditions or requirements "shall be imposed by the department" not the court.

         The trial court rejected Bigsby's claim that RCW 9.94A.6332');">94A.6332(7) vested sole statutory sanctioning authority in the Department. Sentence Review Hr'g Tr. (Sept. 14, 2015) at 8-9. The Court of Appeals affirmed, citing the trial court's broad sanctioning authority under RCW 9.94B.040 as support for the court's sanction. State v. Bigsby, 196 Wn.App. 803, 811-12, 384 P.3d 668 (2016), review granted, 187 Wn.2d 1025, 391 P.3d 457 (2017). That statute authorizes the trial court to punish an offender for violating a sentence condition or requirement imposed by the court. RCW 9.94B.040(1). Most relevantly, the statute specifically authorizes the court to override any sanctions imposed by the Department with different sanctions if the court is dissatisfied with the Department's sanctions. RCW 9.94B.040(3)(b).

         Bigsby argues the Court of Appeals erroneously relied on RCW 9.94B.040 because that statute, in his opinion, applies only to "'crimes committed prior to July 1, 2000.'" Reply Br. of Appellant at 1-2 (quoting RCW 9.94B.010(1)). The Court of Appeals rejected Bigsby's assessment, concluding that "while the statute refers to pre-2000 offenses, it does not state that the chapter applies only to those offenses." Bigsby, 196 Wn.App. at 810.

         We granted review to determine whether RCW 9.94B.040 applies to Bigsby's 2014 offense.[3] Bigsby, 187 Wn.2d 1025. As explained below, we hold RCW 9.94B.040 applies only to crimes committed prior to July 1, 2000 and therefore reverse the Court of Appeals.

         ANALYSIS

         This case addresses the statutory authority of sentencing courts to sanction an offender for violating conditions of his or her sentence after the offender has been released into community custody. '"Community custody'" is the "portion of an offender's sentence of confinement in lieu of earned release time or imposed as part of a sentence . . . served in the community subject to controls placed on the offender's movement and activities by the department." RCW 9.94A.030(5). Although an offender on community custody is subject to the Department's supervision, the Department generally has discretion over whether it will invoke that supervisory authority based on its assessment of the offender's risk to community safety. RCW 9.94A.704(2)(b). This risk-based assessment allows the Department to prioritize and concentrate its limited financial capital and human resources on those offenders it perceives as posing the greatest risk.

         Because an offender can be released into the community for many reasons and may or may not be supervised by the Department while he or she is on community custody, the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981 (SRA), chapter 9.94A RCW, contains several statutes detailing the courts' and the Department's supervisory and sanctioning authority over different categories of offenders, Three statutes, RCW 9.94A.660(6)-(7), .670(10)-(12), and .655(5)-(7), explain that when an offender is sentenced to community custody under special sentencing alternatives for certain drug or sex crimes, or because the offender is a parent, the court has concurrent supervisory authority with the Department over these offenders. Outside of these narrow categories, RCW 9.94A.6333');">94A.6333(1) explains that the court is authorized to "modify its order of judgment and sentence and impose further punishment" when an offender violates a sentence condition or requirement, but only if the offender "is not being supervised by the department."

         RCW 9.94A.6332');">94A.6332 confirms statutory sanctioning authority "for violations of sentence conditions or requirements" under the SRA is allocated based on the offender's status. Like RCW 9.94A.660, .670, and .655, subsections (1) through (3) of RCW 9.94A.6332');">94A.6332 explain that when the offender is sentenced to community custody under the drug offender sentencing alternative, the special sex offender sentencing alternative, or the parenting sentencing alternative, "any sanctions shall be imposed by the department or the court." Subsections (4) through (6) identify a limited class of sex offenders and juvenile offenders over whom sanctioning authority is vested in the indeterminate sentence review board. Finally, subsections (7) and (8) are catchall provisions that apply "[i]n any other case." Like RCW 9.94A.6333');">94A.6333, subsections (7) and (8) distinguish those offenders the Department is supervising from those it is not. Subsections (7) and (8) state that "if the offender is being supervised by the department, any sanctions shall be imposed by the department, " but "[i]f the offender is not being supervised by the department, any sanctions shall be imposed by the court."

         The parties agree that Bigsby's offender status placed him under the catchall category of "other" offenders over whom RCW 9.94A.6332');">94A.6332(7) provides "any sanctions shall be imposed by the department." They disagree whether that statute conveys exclusive sanctioning authority to the Department or establishes a preferred sanctioning scheme with the courts retaining concurrent sanctioning authority under RCW 9.94B.040.

         RCW 9.94B.040(1) provides that "[i]f an offender violates any condition or requirement of a sentence, the court may modify its order of judgment and sentence and impose further punishment in accordance with this section." Together, subsections (3)(b) and (c) of RCW 9.94B.040 explain that if "the court is not satisfied with the department's sanctions, " then the court may punish the offender for his or her noncompliance. While RCW 9.94B.040 clearly contemplates the courts having concurrent and overriding sanctioning authority for community custody violations, the legislature specifically removed that statute from chapter 9.94A RCW, Laws of 2008, ch. 231, § 56(1), and placed it in a different chapter with ...


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