Schwichtenberg v. State
In Schwichtenberg v. State, 190 Ariz. 574, 951 P.2d 449 (1997), a defendant was convicted of committing burglary offenses while on parole from a prison sentence imposed for grand theft. Id.2.
The court revoked his parole and sentenced him to a 5.25-year prison term for the burglary, to be served consecutively to his remaining prison term for grand theft. Id.
But the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) released Schwichtenberg in error after his theft sentence had been served, and before he began serving his sentence for the burglary. Id.3.
Nearly ten years later, Schwichtenberg brought the mistake to ADOC's attention by seeking an absolute discharge on the sentence, credit for time served while he was mistakenly paroled, or commutation of his sentence, and ADOC ordered him to report to begin serving the sentence imposed. Id.4-5.
Schwichtenberg filed a petition for special action, and the supreme court granted relief, concluding, under the "installment theory," that an inmate mistakenly released through no fault of his or her own "is entitled to credit for his time at liberty" resulting from the error. Id.20-25.
The court in Schwichtenberg clarified that "it is irrelevant which state entity made the mistake that led to the erroneous release" and that a released inmate would not be found "at fault" for the state's error unless he had "done something he was not entitled to do or refrained from doing that which he had a duty to do." Id.22-23.