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Sanders v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

September 7, 2018

David Lee Sanders
v.
State of Alabama

          Appeal from Lee Circuit Court (CC-11-79.01 and CC-11-80.01)

          JOINER, Judge.

         David Lee Sanders appeals his guilty-plea convictions for first-degree rape, see § 13A-6-61, Ala. Code 1975, and first-degree sodomy, see § 13A-6-63, Ala. Code 1975. Sanders was sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment for each conviction; those sentences were to run concurrently.

         Facts and Procedural History

         Because of the nature of Sanders's claim on appeal, a recitation of the procedural history underlying this claim is necessary. On September 10, 2010, Sanders was arrested and charged with first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy for engaging in sexual intercourse with a six-year old relative. Sanders entered into a plea agreement with the State and, on June 8, 2012, he pleaded guilty to first-degree rape. His first-degree-sodomy charge was dismissed pursuant to the agreement. He was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment; that sentence was split, and he was ordered to serve 5 years' imprisonment followed by 5 years' supervised probation. Sanders served his split sentence of five years and was released from prison and placed on probation in November 2015.

         In April 2016, Sanders's probation officer filed a delinquency report, which alleged that Sanders had violated the terms and conditions of his probation by failing to report his change of address and failing to pay supervision fines. A revocation hearing was held on May 2, 2016, at which Sanders appeared and was represented by counsel. Following the hearing, the circuit court found that it was reasonably satisfied that Sanders had violated the terms and conditions of his probation by failing to report his change of address. As a result, it revoked Sanders's probation and ordered him to serve his original 20-year prison sentence. Sanders filed a motion to reconsider, but that motion was denied.

         On May 31, 2016, Sanders appealed the circuit court's decision to revoke his probation to this Court. See Sanders v. State, 237 So.3d 900 (Ala.Crim.App.2016). On appeal, this Court remanded the case to the circuit court to determine whether Sanders had been illegally sentenced when his sentence was split. Specifically, we determined that,

"because the nature of Sanders's guilty-plea conviction may exempt him from application of the Split-Sentence Act, 2 the circuit court may have had no authority to apply the Split-Sentence Act to him and no authority to impose a term of probation on Sanders. See § 15-18-8(a) and (b), Ala. Code 1975. If Sanders was convicted of the rape of a child under 12 years of age, the court further had no authority to conduct a probation-revocation hearing and revoke Sanders's probation under § 15-18-8(c), Ala. Code 1975. If the circuit court had no authority to impose a term of probation or to revoke that probation, the circuit court's order revoking Sanders's probation would be void. See also Hicks v. State, 138 So.3d 338, 342 (Ala.Crim.App.2013)('Because the circuit court did not have the authority to sentence Hicks to the split sentences or to impose terms of probation, the circuit court did not have authority to revoke Hicks's probation; thus, its order revoking Hicks's probation is void.').
"This case is therefore due to be remanded for the circuit court to determine if Sanders was convicted of the rape of a child under the age of 12. If so, Sanders is due to be resentenced. Because his 20-year sentence was valid, the circuit court may not change it. Enfinger [v. State], 123 So.3d [535, 538 (Ala.Crim.App.2012)]. Thus, if the court determines that Sanders was convicted of the rape of a child under the age of 12, the circuit court must conduct another sentencing hearing and vacate that portion of its judgment splitting Sanders's sentence.
"Additionally, we note that the record indicates that Sanders was convicted as the result of a plea bargain; however, the record is unclear as to whether the sentence was part of the plea bargain. 'Thus, "it is impossible for this Court to determine whether resentencing [Sanders] will affect the voluntariness of his plea." Austin [v. State], 864 So.2d [1115] at 1119 [(Ala.Crim.App.2003)]. If [Sanders is due to be resentenced and] the split sentence was a term of [Sanders's] "plea bargain," and, if he moves to withdraw his guilty plea, the circuit court should conduct a hearing to determine whether withdrawal of the plea is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. See Rule 14.4(e), Ala. R. Crim. P.' Enfinger, 123 So.3d at 539. See also Hicks v. State, 138 So.3d at 342 ('[T]he record is unclear whether Hicks's sentences were the result of a plea agreement. Thus, this Court is unable to determine whether resentencing Hicks will affect the voluntariness of his pleas. If the split sentences were the result of any plea agreements and, if Hicks moves to withdraw his guilty pleas, the circuit court should conduct a hearing to determine whether withdrawal of the pleas is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.').
"This case is remanded to the circuit court for proceedings consistent with this opinion. Due return, including findings of fact and, if Sanders is resentenced, a transcript of the proceedings conducted on remand, shall be made to this Court within 42 days of the date of this opinion.
"____
"2 First-degree rape is defined by § 13A-6-61(a)(3), Ala. Code 1975, as follows: 'A person commits the crime of rape in the first degree if [h]e or she, being 16 years or older, engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is less than 12 years old.' Rape in the first degree is a Class A felony."

Id. at 901-02.

         On January 23, 2017, the circuit court conducted a hearing on remand and determined that the victim was under the age of 12. As a result, the court resentenced Sanders by imposing a straight sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, thereby vacating the portion of the sentence that dealt with probation. When Sanders appealed the court's revocation of his probation for a second time, we, again, remanded the case and, on April 20, 2017, issued an order instructing the circuit court to determine if Sanders had entered his guilty plea based on his belief that he would receive a split sentence.

         On May 2, 2017, the circuit court held a hearing in compliance with our order. During that hearing, the court allowed Sanders to withdraw his guilty plea after it determined that the split sentence was a material part of his decision to enter a guilty plea in 2012. On return to second remand, this Court dismissed the appeal.

         On May 16, 2017, Sanders moved to dismiss the charges against him because, he said, he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. According to Sanders, since his initial arrest in September 2010, he had remained incarcerated with the exception of the five and a half months he was released on probation, and, as of May 2, 2017, he had been incarcerated for a total of six years. Citing the factors from the United States Supreme Court's decision in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514');">407 U.S. 514');">407 U.S. 514');">407 U.S. 514 (1972), Sanders argued that "it is obvious that the delay in this case experienced by [him] has prejudiced him to a degree that would warrant the dismissal of his indictment."[1] (Supp. I, C. 6-14.) On May 17, 2017, the State filed its response to Sanders's motion. Following a hearing on July 24, 2017, the circuit court denied Sanders's motion.

         On February 15, 2018, Sanders pleaded guilty to first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy. He reserved for appeal the issue of the denial of his motion to dismiss on speedy-trial grounds. He was sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment for each conviction, and those sentences were ...


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