Posts tagged with "Sentencing Review Division"

Division to Petitioner: “No Good Reason” for Sentence Reduction

Superior Court of Connecticut: Sentencing Review Division (Division)

In a criminal law matter involving a sentence reduction, the Sentencing Review Division (Division) of the Superior Court of Connecticut declined to reduce the sentence of a petitioner who claimed it was inappropriate and disproportionate.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on September 23, 1999. The petitioner was driving his car when he began racing a second vehicle at speeds in excess of 100mph. The second vehicle crashed into a traveling motorcycle, resulting in the death of both vehicles’ passengers. In addition, the motorcyclist required a leg amputation. Meanwhile, the petitioner continued driving until he experienced a flat tire, at which point he walked back to the scene of the accident and was arrested.

Counts of Conviction

The petitioner was charged and convicted, following a jury trial, of the following counts:

  1. Third-degree reckless assault: mandatory one year in jail.
  2. Misconduct with a motor vehicle (two counts): maximum of five years of incarceration.
  3. Reckless driving: maximum one year in jail for subsequent offenders.
  4. Illegal racing: maximum one year in jail.

The petitioner was sentenced to twelve years of incarceration. Following an unsuccessful appeal, he pursued a reduced sentence of eight years, arguing that it was the average sentence for those convicted of similar offenses. He claimed that his sentence, “being higher than the average, is therefore ‘inappropriate’ or ‘disproportionate.” The State vehemently opposed, pointing to the petitioner’s: history of speeding violations, including one between the time of this offense and his sentencing; denial of responsibility; failure to show genuine remorse; history of behavioral problems; and the suffering inflicted on the families of the victims.

Connecticut Practice Book § 43-28

Under Connecticut Practice Book § 43-28, one will find the statutory limitations of the Division’s authority to modify criminal sentences to those that are inappropriate or disproportionate. When making this determination, the Division will consider: “the nature of the offense, the character of the offender, the protection of the public interest, the deterrent, rehabilitative, isolative, and denunciatory purposes for which the sentence was intended.” In this case, the Division considered these factors and affirmed the sentence, noting that there was “no good reason to reduce the sentence imposed by the trial court.”

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Sentence Imposed was “Fully Merited, Appropriate, and Proportionate,” Division Denies Modification

In a recent criminal law matter, the Sentencing Review Division (Division) of the Superior Court of Connecticut declined to reduce the sentence of a petitioner because the sentence was not inappropriate or disproportionate.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on June 27, 2007. The victim was arriving at her home when she saw the petitioner, who she did not know, run out of her house and promptly drive away. Police located the petitioner, but he would not stop and led them on a high-speed chase before escaping. However, he was tracked down and arrested the next day.

The petitioner was charged and convicted, following a jury trial, of the following counts:

  1. Burglary (Third Degree): maximum of five years of incarceration. If Persistent Serious Felony Offender, then maximum of ten years of incarceration.
  2. Criminal Mischief (Third Degree): maximum of six months in jail.
  3. Engaging Police in Pursuit: maximum one year in jail.
  4. Evading Responsibility: minimum of one year in jail, maximum of five years of incarceration.
  5. Reckless Driving: maximum of thirty days in jail.

Because of his lengthy criminal record and lack of remorse or acceptance of responsibility, the petitioner was sentenced to a total of twelve years of incarceration. He sought a reduced sentence, arguing that he should “not be penalized for exercising his right to a jury trial” and that he deserved a credit for admitting to being a Persistent Serious Felony Offender.

The Division is very limited statutorily in their modification authority to sentences that are “inappropriate” or “disproportionate.” Upon review of this case, the Division believed that the trial court imposed a proper sentence, and noted that there was nothing in the record indicating the petitioner was penalized for going to trial. Rather, “[t]he sentence imposed is fully merited, appropriate and proportionate.” Therefore, the sentence was affirmed.

When faced with a charge of evading responsibility, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Sentencing Review Division Affirms Sentence of Remorseless DUI Driver with Rare Disease

In a recent criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut affirmed the sentence of a petitioner following his conviction for a DUI-related fatality.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on night of July 28, 1998. The petitioner suffered from Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), a rare illness that can cause deafness, blindness, or even death. That morning, he underwent a radiation treatment, and then attended a farewell party that evening. At the party, the petitioner drank nine to twelve ounces of scotch and was visibly intoxicated by the time he left alone. He traveled various highways in the wrong direction and then entered a northbound ramp going southbound. The petitioner drove into an oncoming vehicle, which resulted in a fatality. He was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment, and blood tests revealed that he had a blood alcohol content of 0.210, over two-and-a-half times the legal limit.

The petitioner was charged with reckless manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) of alcohol. At his jury trial, he argued that he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident; rather, a defense expert testified that the defendant “lost consciousness as a result of a seizure caused by his NF2 disease.” The jury was not convinced and convicted the petitioner on all counts, and he was sentenced to fifteen years execution suspended after ten years, with five years’ probation and a $21,000 fine.

The petitioner asked the Sentencing Review Division of the Superior Court to reduce the non-suspended part of his sentence for three reasons. He first argued that the sentence imposed was inappropriate and disproportionate, as those similarly situated received lighter sentences. Second, he argued that the trial court did not consider his health problems when determining his sentence, and that he was receiving inadequate treatment by the Department of Corrections. Finally the petitioner stated that because was “a person of good moral character” who accepted responsibility for his crime, modification was warranted.

The Superior Court rejected all of the petitioner’s arguments for sentence reduction. It noted that despite claiming that individuals convicted of similar crimes received lighter sentences, the petitioner provided little to no information about those cases that would facilitate a proper comparative analysis. Furthermore, the Court acknowledged that the sentencing court was “fully aware of his health issues,” and the sentence was made after appropriate consideration of the petitioner’s health. In addition, the Court would not address the petitioner’s DOC complaint, because it “may only consider matters which were before the sentencing court at the time of sentencing.” Finally, the sentencing court considered the petitioner’s background and history, and found that he was “in denial regarding the role that alcohol played [in] his crime, failed to show any empathy for the suffering caused by the victim’s family and posed a danger to society.” Therefore, the Superior Court affirmed the sentence because it was neither inappropriate nor disproportionate.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

For Remorseless Drunk Driver, Stiff Sentence Was Neither Disproportionate Nor Inappropriate

In a recent criminal law matter, the Sentence Review Division of the Superior Court assessed whether a defendant’s sentence following a DUI-related trial was proper.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on July 27, 1997. The defendant was driving under the influence when he struck two teenage pedestrians. One died at the scene and the other the next day at Hartford Hospital. The defendant did not stop to help them; rather, he drove until he got his car hit a tree, after which he fled. Soon after, police found the defendant, who admitted that he hit what he believed was a dog. A subsequent chemical alcohol test revealed the defendant’s blood alcohol content at 0.163, over twice the legal limit, as well as the presence of cannabis.

The defendant was charged with and convicted of two counts of second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, offense committed while on release, and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) of alcohol and/or drugs. At the sentencing hearing, the court noted that “the impact of the defendant’s actions was clearly significant,” noting the very young age of the victims. The defendant did not exhibit remorse for his conduct, and he tried blaming the victims because at the time of the accident, they were wearing dark clothing. The court considered the defendant’s background and upbringing, but was particularly disturbed by the following statement from his pre-sentence investigation report: “I’ve been driving like this for 35 years… I can drink and drive… I am a good drunk driver.”

The defendant was subsequently sentenced to thirty-five years execution suspended after twenty-six and a half years, with five years probation. He sought review of his sentence, arguing that it was “disproportionate” to the sentences imposed on others who were similarly situated.

The scope of review by the Sentencing Review Division is confined to the parameters of Connecticut Practice Book § 43-23 et seq. A sentence may be modified upon a showing that it was “inappropriate or disproportionate” in light of various factors, such as the nature of the offense and protection of public interests. In this case, the Court stated that modification was not warranted based on the unique facts of this case. It wrote how it appeared “the sentencing court was unable to identify anything that it could use as mitigation to merit a lesser sentence.” Therefore, the sentence was affirmed.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.