Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ohio Supreme Court "sentencing packages"

The Ohio Supreme Court in deciding State v. Saxon back in March, held that courts of appeal don’t have the authority under sentencing statutes to vacate a defendant’s entire multiple-offense sentence.

“An appellate court may modify, remand, or vacate only a sentence for an offense that is appealed,” the Court said (but) may not modify, remand, or vacate the entire multiple-offense sentence based on an appeal error in the sentence for a single offense.

The Court went on to explain that, “Over the years some appellate court have adopted the ‘sentencing package’ doctrine, a federal doctrine that requires a court to consider the sanctions imposed on multiple offenses as the component of a single, comprehensive sentencing plan….. According to this view, an error within the sentencing package as a whole, even if only on one of multiple offenses, may require modification or vacation of the entire sentencing package due to the interdependence of the sentences for each offense. [U.S. v. Clements, 86 F.3d 599 (1996)]

“… but the rationale for ‘sentencing packaging’ fails in Ohio where there is no potential for an error in the sentence for one offense to permeate the entire multi-count group of sentences. Ohio’s felony-sentencing scheme is clearly designed to focus a judge’s attention on one offense at a time. Under R.C. 2929.14(A), the range of available penalties depends on the degree of each offense….”

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