Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Supervised release does not begin during civil detention under Adam Walsh Act

US v. Neuhauser:  The issue in this case reached the Fourth Circuit following Neuhauser’s appeal of the district court’s decision to deny his motion to terminate his supervised release.  In 1999, he had been imprisoned for child sex offenses, a sentence which included three years of supervised release.   Prior to his release from prison, the government certified him as “sexually dangerous,” under the Adam Walsh Act, preventing his release from incarceration for the next four-and-a-half years.  At that time, the district court determined that Neuhauser did not meet the criteria for further civil commitment, so he was released from prison.

Upon his release from civil detention, Neuhauser moved to terminate his supervised release, arguing that the term imposed had started upon the end of his criminal sentence while he was still in jail on a civil commitment.  Further, he argued that civil confinement does not constitute imprisonment.  The district court disagreed, reasoning that “release from imprisonment” occurs only when a person is freed from confinement; and that Neuhauser’s supervised release started when his civil detention ceased.  Neuhauser timely appealed.

The Fourth Circuit panel started with the statute governing release from prison, 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e), in which it states, the “term of supervised release commences on the day the person is released from imprisonment.” The panel found Neuhauser’s definition of imprisonment did not jive with the broad definition of “imprisonment” it read in the statutory language.  Moreover, the panel found related Supreme Court analysis which rejected Neuhauser’s argument, holding that supervised release has no statutory function until confinement ends.  Additionally, other courts considering this precise issue have recently held that supervised release does not begin until an individual detained pursuant to the Adam Walsh Act is released from confinement (Eighth Circuit and District of Maryland).  The Fourth Circuit affirmed the denial of Neuhauser’s motion to terminate his supervised release.

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