from a district court order denying a postconviction petition
for a writ of habeas corpus. Eighth Judicial District Court,
Clark County; Linda Marie Bell, Judge.
Justice Law Center and Bret O. Whipple, Las Vegas, for
D. Ford, Attorney General, and Jessica Perlick, Senior Deputy
Attorney General, Carson City, for Respondent.
HARDESTY, STIGLICH and SILVER, JJ.
Gerardo Perez is serving a sentence for using a deadly weapon
in the commission of a second-degree murder in 2003. In a
postconviction for a writ of habeas corpus, Perez challenged
the computation of time he has served. He claimed, in
relevant part, that the credits he earns under NRS 209.4465
must be applied to the minimum term of his enhancement
sentence. The district court rejected that argument,
concluding that the applicable sentencing statute specified a
minimum term that Perez had to serve before becoming eligible
for parole and therefore NRS 209.4465(7)(b) precluded
respondent from applying the statutory credits to the minimum
term of Perez's enhancement sentence. Perez argues that
the district court erred because the sentencing statute is
silent as to parole eligibility. We disagree because the
statute that specified the sentence for the primary offense
(second-degree murder) also specified the sentence for the
weapon enhancement and that statute specified a minimum term
that Perez had to serve before becoming eligible for parole.
209.4465(7)(b) provides that statutory credits may be applied
to the minimum term of an offender's sentence
"unless the offender was sentenced pursuant to
a statute which specifies a minimum sentence that must be
served before a person becomes eligible for
parole."(Emphasis added.) Pointing to NRS 193.165
as the statute under which he was sentenced for the weapon
enhancement, Perez argues that it says nothing about parole
eligibility and that the parole-eligibility requirement in
the sentencing statute for the primary offense should not be
read into NKS 193.165 because this court has said that the
sentence for the primary offense and the sentence for a
weapon enhancement "are separate and distinct,"
State, Dep't of Prisons v. Bowen, 103 Nev. 477,
481, 745 P.2d 697, 699 (1987).
interpreting a statute, we focus on its plain language.
State v. Lucero, 127 Nev. 92, 95, 249 P.3d 1226,
1228 (2011). At the time of the offense, NRS 193.165(1)
expressly relied on the sentencing statute for i the primary
offense to set the sentence for the weapon enhancement. 1995
Nev. Stat., ch. 455, § 1, at 1431; see also State v.
Second Judicial Dist. Court (Pullin), 124 Nev. 564, 188
P.3d 1079 (2008) (holding that the 2007 amendments to NRS
193.165 do not apply to offenses committed before the
amendments' effective date). In particular, it required
that the enhancement sentence be "equal to ... the term
of imprisonment prescribed by statute for the crime"
during which the weapon was used. 1995 Nev. Stat., ch. 455,
§ 1(1), at 1431. We conclude that NRS l94.l65(1)'s
plain language incorporated the sentence prescribed by
statute for the primary offense. Bowen does not
undermine that interpretation. The holding in Bowen
that the primary-offense sentence and enhancement sentence
are "separate and distinct" does not mean that
those sentences are prescribed by separate and distinct
statutes. Take a simple example: consecutive sentences for
multiple counts of robbery are "separate and
distinct" sentences, yet they are prescribed by the same
statute. Considering the plain language of NRS 193.165(1)
before the 2007 amendments, we conclude that the relevant
sentencing statute for purposes of NRS 209.4465(7)(b) is the
one that prescribed the sentence for the primary
NRS 200.030(5) prescribed the sentence for the primary
offense of second-degree murder: either life with the
possibility of parole or a definite term of 25 years, both
"with eligibility for parole beginning when a
minimum of 10 years has been served." NRS
200.030(5)(a), (b) (emphasis added). Perez therefore was
sentenced for the weapon enhancement pursuant to a statute
that specified a minimum sentence-10 years-that he had to
serve before becoming eligible for parole on the enhancement
I sentence. See Williams, 133 Nev. at 597-98, 402
P.3d at 1262-63 (explaining the difference between
parole-eligibility statutes, which "delineate a [maximum
sentence], with eligibility for parole beginning when a
minimum of [x] years has been served," and
minimum-maximum sentencing statutes, which are silent as to
parole eligibility (alteration in original) (internal
quotation marks omitted)). As such, NRS 209.4465(7)(b)
precludes respondent from applying Perez's statutory
credits to the minimum term of his weapon enhancement
sentence. The district court did not err in so
holding and thus denying the postconviction habeas petition.
We therefore affirm the judgment of the district court.
Hardesty, J., Stiglich, J., Silver, J.
We previously decided this
matter in an unpublished order but then granted
respondent's motion to publish the decision ...