The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously held, yesterday, that a trial court sentencing a defendant has the authority to order that the sentence imposed for the current offense be served consecutively to sentences previously imposed by another court for the same offense. ( Decision )( Court’s Summary )
Defendant in the case appealed a 2005 three-count felony conviction in Miami County, Ohio, received at the time when he was already serving a 10-year prison sentence for robbery and firearms convictions from Montgomery County in an unrelated case. His argument was that, in light of Ohio’s sentencing guidelines Foster, two years ago, which severed some felony sentencing statutes, state law now authorized prison terms for multiple offenses to be served consecutively only when those sentences are imposed by a single court and single proceeding.
The 2nd. District Ohio Court of Appeals rejected that argument, affirming the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentences, but certified it as a question of law in conflict with an earlier, 2002 5th. District decision.
Justice Robert Cupp, in citing Stewart v. Maxwell [ 174 O.St. 180 (1963)], wrote: A long-standing principle of constitutional law is that the authority of the trial court to impose sentences derives from the statues enacted by the General Assembly…. Once the legislature has defined the crime and established punishment the trial court is to impose, the foregoing constitutional law principle further holds that, ‘in the absence of the statute stating otherwise, it is a matter solely within the discretion of the sentencing court as to whether sentences shall run consecutively or concurrently.”