Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ex parte State

Supreme Court of Alabama

August 31, 2018

Ex Parte State of Alabama
v.
Jeffery Ray Duncan In re: State of Alabama

          Clay Circuit Court, CC-16-148 and CC-16-149; Court of Criminal Appeals, CR-16-0890

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS

          MENDHEIM, JUSTICE.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         Jeffery Ray Duncan pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor, see § 13A-12-214, Ala. Code 1975, and to unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Class D felony, see § 13A-12-212, Ala. Code 1975. Before sentencing, Duncan made application to, and was accepted into, the Clay-Coosa Drug Court Program ("the drug-court program"). The Clay Circuit Court set Duncan's case on the next drug-court docket and continued the imposition of Duncan's sentence pending Duncan's successful completion of, or expulsion from, the drug-court program.

         Duncan was accepted into the drug-court program in January 2017. Less than a month later, Duncan was sentenced to 48 hours in jail for violating the terms and conditions of the drug-court program. Duncan was subsequently sentenced to jail on three additional occasions for violating the terms and conditions of the drug-court program. In May 2017, the circuit court removed Duncan from the drug-court program, based on a recommendation of the drug-court-program coordinator and on the circuit court's finding that Duncan was "unwilling and/or unable to abide by the rules ... of the [drug-court program]."[1] According to the May 2017 order, over the course of four months participating in the drug-court program, Duncan had tested positive for the presence of drugs on three occasions, had "missed court and monitoring sessions," and had "failed to complete an assessment as directed by the court." In addition to removing Duncan from the drug-court program, the circuit court's order required Duncan to appear for a sentencing hearing.

         At the sentencing hearing, defense counsel argued that the presumptive sentencing standards applied and that they mandated that Duncan's sentence not include incarceration. See Ala. Code 1975, §§ 12-25-30 to -38; Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual. Specifically, defense counsel argued that the "sentencing event" in Duncan's case included both drug convictions and that the presumptive sentencing standard applicable to "the most serious offense" in Duncan's case (the class D felony controlled-substance conviction) mandated no jail time. The circuit court determined, however, that Duncan's misdemeanor marijuana conviction was not subject to the presumptive sentencing standards, and it sentenced Duncan to 12 months in jail for that conviction. For the felony controlled-substance conviction, the circuit court applied the presumptive sentencing standards and sentenced Duncan to 23 months' imprisonment, which the court suspended, and placed Duncan on 2 years' supervised probation.[2] The circuit court ordered that Duncan's sentences were to run concurrently.

         Duncan appealed his sentences to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Duncan v. State, [Ms. CR-16-0890, December 15, 2017] ___ So.3d ___ (Ala.Crim.App.2017). On appeal, Duncan argued that the sentences imposed by the circuit court "represented an improper departure from the presumptive sentencing standards," Duncan, ___ So.3d at ___, because the circuit court imposed a period of incarceration, although he says the presumptive sentencing standards did not provide for incarceration under the facts of his case. The State argued that the circuit court "properly sentenced Duncan to jail time pursuant to § 13A-5-8.1, Ala. Code 1975, because Duncan was terminated from a drug-court program for noncompliance." Duncan, ___ So.3d at ___.[3]

         The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the judgment of the circuit court, holding (1) that the presumptive sentencing standards applied to both convictions, (2) that the presumptive sentencing standards did not authorize a sentence of imprisonment in Duncan's case, (3) that the circuit court had no authority to sentence Duncan to jail on the misdemeanor conviction, and (4) that § 13A-5-8.1 required a sentence imposed after termination from a drug-court program to fully comply with the presumptive sentencing standards, including the dispositional component of the sentence. Judge Joiner dissented with an opinion, which Judge Burke joined.[4]

         II. Analysis

         The main opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals discussed the presumptive sentencing standards as follows:

"In 2012, the legislature enacted § 12-25-34.2, Ala. Code 1975, effective May 15, 2012, to implement presumptive sentencing standards. See Act No. 2012-473, Ala. Acts 2012. See also Hyde v. State, 185 So.3d 501, 502-04 (Ala.Crim.App.2015)(detailing the history of the 2012 amendment to the Alabama Sentencing Reform Act of 2003, codified at §§ 12-25-30 to -38, Ala. Code 1975). The presumptive sentencing standards became effective on October 1, 2013, see Clark v. State, 166 So.3d 147 (Ala.Crim.App.2014), and were amended on October 1, 2016, to 'incorporate the new Class D felonies,' to add additional nonviolent crimes to the presumptive sentencing standards, and to 'provide information on the new sentencing parameters for all Class C and Class D felony offenses.' See Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 15.
"The Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual, as amended, sets forth the offenses subject to the presumptive sentencing standards and provides circuit courts instructions and worksheets to use in imposing a sentence under the presumptive sentencing standards. ... '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 23 (emphasis in original). The Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual sets forth five rules used to determine the 'most serious offense' at a sentencing event. 'Rule 5' provides that, '[w]here a sentencing event includes both a worksheet offense and a non-worksheet offense and the worksheet offense has a higher statutory maximum penalty governed by the felony offense classification, the worksheet offense is the most serious offense and the Standards are applicable to the convictions in that sentencing event.' Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 24.
"In this case, Duncan pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Class D felony, see § 13A-12-212(b), Ala. Code 1975, and unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor, see § 13A-12-214(b), Ala. Code 1975. Possession of a controlled substance is a worksheet offense under the presumptive sentencing standards; however, possession of marijuana in the second degree is a non-worksheet offense. Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 21. Duncan was sentenced in both cases and for both convictions at the same time. Because Duncan's sentencing event included both a worksheet offense and a non-worksheet offense and his worksheet offense --possession of a controlled substance -- carried a higher statutory maximum penalty as a Class D felony than the non-worksheet offense, the worksheet offense constituted the 'most serious offense' and the presumptive sentencing standards were applicable to both convictions when the circuit court sentenced Duncan.
"Furthermore, the record contains worksheets that were prepared in anticipation of the application of the presumptive sentencing standards. The worksheets recommend a sentence disposition and a range of sentence length from which a sentence is chosen. Presumptive and Voluntary Sentencing Standards Manual 16. In Duncan's case, the circuit court received a 'Drug Sentence Length Worksheet' that provided for a sentencing range of 13 to 32 months for a straight sentence and 6 to 14 months for a split sentence. The circuit court also received a 'Drug Prison In/Out Worksheet' that recommended a 'non-prison' sentence based, in part, on Duncan's having no prior felony convictions. Pursuant to the presumptive sentencing standards, '[i]f the most serious offense at a sentencing event is a Class D felony and the offender's presumptive Prison In/Out worksheet recommendation is "OUT," a county jail sentence becomes a sentencing option only if the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.