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Showers v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

August 11, 2017

J'Anthony Corteze Showers
v.
State of Alabama

         Appeal from Pickens Circuit Court (CC-15-50; CC-15-52)

          JOINER, Judge.

         J'Anthony Corteze Showers pleaded guilty on November 30, 2015, to two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. See §§ 13A-12-211, Ala. Code 1975. On June 27, 2016, the circuit court sentenced Showers to 97 months' imprisonment on each conviction and ordered that the sentences were to run consecutively; the circuit court split each sentence, ordering Showers to serve consecutive terms of 18 months in the Pickens County jail followed by 60 months' probation. In his appeal to this Court, Showers challenges only his sentences.

         Specifically, Showers questions whether the circuit court correctly applied the presumptive sentencing standards ("the presumptive standards") that became effective October 1, 2013.[1] See § 12-25-34.2, Ala. Code 1975. See also Hyde v. State, 185 So.3d 501, 502-04 (Ala.Crim.App.2015) (detailing the history of the Alabama Sentencing Reform Act of 2003, codified at §§ 12-25-30 to -38, Ala. Code 1975, as well as the 2012 amendment to that act). Showers argues that, under the facts of his case, his consecutive base sentences (97 months) and consecutive split sentences (18 months) do not comport with the presumptive standards.

         The Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual sets forth the offenses subject to the presumptive standards and provides circuit courts instructions and worksheets to use in imposing a sentence under the presumptive standards. In Snow v. State, 197 So.3d 549 (Ala.Crim.App.2015), this Court provided the following relevant description of the presumptive standards:

"The presumptive sentencing standards apply only to those nonviolent offenses included in the 'Property A' and 'Drug Offense' worksheets. See Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 19. The presumptive sentencing standards do not apply to convictions carrying a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole or to sex offenses involving a child victim under 12 years of age. Id. Likewise, the presumptive standards do not apply to those offenses included in the 'Personal Worksheets, ' which include offenses such as assault, manslaughter, murder, rape, robbery and sodomy, or the 'Property Worksheets, ' which include only burglary offenses. See Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 53.
"When the presumptive sentencing standards apply, sentencing worksheets are presented to the prosecutor, the defendant and/or his attorney, and the sentencing judge before sentencing. Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 17. 'Worksheets must be completed and considered when the "most serious offense" at a sentencing event is a worksheet offense in the same venue.' Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 20. 'A sentencing event includes all convictions sentenced at the same time, whether included as counts in one case or in multiple cases, regardless of whether offenses are worksheet offenses.' Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 20 (emphasis in original). ...
"Circuit courts are given 'significant discretion in arriving at sentencing decisions' under the presumptive standards. Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 14. That discretion includes a circuit court's decision, 'in exceptional cases, ' to depart from the durational or dispositional recommendation, or both, 'upon a finding of aggravating and/or mitigating factors.' Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 24. A circuit court 'must consider all aggravating and/or mitigating factors proven for a sentencing event, but the decision to depart from the presumptive sentence recommendation is in the discretion of the court.' Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 24. Before a circuit court chooses to depart from a dispositional or durational recommendation under the presumptive sentencing standards, certain procedures must be followed, among them that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an aggravating factor exists. Id. The presumptive standards also provide that '[t]he defendant is entitled to a jury trial on the existence of any aggravating factor, unless the aggravating factor is admitted by the defendant or both the defendant and the prosecutor waive a jury determination and request the judge alone to decide.' Id."

197 So.3d at 551-52.

         In the instant case, Showers was sentenced at one "sentencing event" for two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. The "In/Out Worksheet" prepared for Showers indicates a dispositional recommendation of "non-prison, " and the "Sentence-Length Worksheet" indicates a presumptive sentence range of 15 to 97 months with a split range of 8 to 27 months. (C. 145, 149.)

         The State did not seek a departure sentence, and the circuit court did not assert that it was imposing a departure sentence. Showers contends that by imposing consecutive base sentences of 97 months each and consecutive split sentences of 18 months each, the circuit court imposed sentences that fail to comply with the guidelines. We agree.

         The Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual states the following regarding a sentencing event:

         "Imposition of Sentence

"A sentence comports to the Standards when the sentence conforms to the recommendation on the In/Out Worksheet and the sentence length is chosen from the recommended sentence ...

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