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Date: 04-13-2019

Case Style:

STATE OF OHIO - vs - PAUL D. ECKERT III

Case Number: CA2018-06-038

Judge: Michael E. Powell

Court: COURT OF APPEALS TWELFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT OF OHIO CLERMONT COUNTY

Plaintiff's Attorney: D. Vincent Faris, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney

Defendant's Attorney: W. Stephen Haynes, Clermont County Public Defender

Description:








On May 11, 2017, the Clermont County Grand Jury returned a nine-count
indictment charging Eckert with nine fifth-degree felonies. Eckert pled guilty to five counts
Clermont CA2018-06-038

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of the indictment and the remaining charges were dismissed. In September 2017, the trial
court sentenced Eckert to four years of community control on each of the five offenses of
which he was convicted. The sentencing entries provided general conditions of supervision
and several court-ordered special conditions of Eckert's community control. In January
2018, the probation department filed an affidavit alleging Eckert violated the conditions of
his community control. The probation department filed two similar affidavits in March 2018
and April 2018. In all, the affidavits indicated Eckert had violated five conditions of his
community control, including failing to refrain from the consumption and possession of illicit
drugs. One of the affidavits alleged Eckert tested positive for methamphetamine on March
22, 2018.
{ 3} The trial court found Eckert violated the five conditions of his community
control alleged in the affidavits. On May 7, 2018, the court held a sentencing hearing,
revoked Eckert's previously imposed community control sanction, and sentenced him to an
aggregate prison term of 36 months.
{ 4} Eckert now appeals, raising the following assignment of error:
{ 5} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT R.C. 2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i) DID
NOT APPLY TO APPELLANT BECAUSE HE HAD ORIGINALLY BEEN CONVICTED OF
MULTIPLE FELONIES OF THE FIFTH DEGREE.
{ 6} Eckert argues the trial court erred in finding the 90-day statutory limitation
inapplicable. Specifically, he contends the trial court misinterpreted the statutory language
of R.C. 2929.15 when it found the limitation does not apply to a defendant serving
community control sanctions for multiple felonies of the fifth degree.
{ 7} R.C. 2953.08(G)(2) sets forth the standard of review for all felony sentences.
State v. Marcum, 146 Ohio St.3d 516, 2016-Ohio-1002, 1; accord State v. Crawford, 12th
Dist. Clermont No. CA2012-12-088, 2013-Ohio-3315, 6. As explained in Marcum, "[t]he
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appellate court's standard for review is not whether the sentencing court abused its
discretion." Marcum at 9. Rather, pursuant to R.C. 2953.08(G)(2), an appellate court
may only "increase, reduce, or otherwise modify a sentence * * * or may vacate the sentence
and remand the matter to the sentencing court for resentencing" if the court finds by clear
and convincing evidence "(a) [t]hat the record does not support the sentencing court's
findings[,]" or "(b) [t]hat the sentence is otherwise contrary to law." R.C. 2953.08(G)(2)(a)
(b). A sentence is not "clearly and convincingly contrary to law where the trial court
considers the principles and purposes of R.C. 2929.11, as well as the factors listed in R.C.
2929.12, properly imposes postrelease control, and sentences the defendant within the
permissible statutory range." State v. Ahlers, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2015-06-100, 2016
Ohio-2890, 8, citing State v. Moore, 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2014-02-016, 2014-Ohio
5191, 6.
{ 8} R.C. 2929.15(B)(1)(c) provides that if a defendant violates the conditions of a
community control sanction, the sentencing court may impose a prison term pursuant to
R.C. 2929.14 and 2929.15(B)(3). However, the imposition of a prison term is subject to the
following limitation:
If the prison term is imposed for any technical violation of the conditions of a community control sanction imposed for a felony of the fifth degree or for any violation of law committed while under a community control sanction imposed for such a felony that consists of a new criminal offense and that is not a felony, the prison term shall not exceed ninety days.
R.C. 2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i).
{ 9} In this matter, the trial court made two findings with respect to the
inapplicability of R.C. 2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i). Specifically, the trial court found "that [R.C.]
2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i) does not apply because [Eckert] was originally convicted of multiple
felonies and [he] committed a new felony by testing positive for Methamphetamine on March
Clermont CA2018-06-038

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22, 2018." Eckert's appeal is limited to the trial court's finding that the 90-day prison term
limitation of R.C. 2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i) does not apply to offender's serving community control
for multiple fifth-degree felonies.
{ 10} Recently, this court held that R.C. 2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i) applies to a defendant
serving community control for multiple felonies of the fifth degree. State v. Bishop, 12th
Dist. Clermont Nos. CA2018-05-031 and CA2018-05-036, 2019-Ohio-592, 14-15.
Therefore, the trial court erred in finding the statute did not apply because Eckert was
convicted of multiple fifth-degree felonies. However, the error is not prejudicial since Eckert
is not entitled to claim the benefit of the 90-day prison term limitation of R.C.
2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i) because he engaged in conduct constituting a new felony while on
community control. See App.R. 12(B).
{ 11} As stated above, the 90-day prison term limitation of R.C. 2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i)
applies when the community control violation is a "technical violation" or a non-felony
violation of law. We have consistently interpreted the statute as exempting from its benefit
offenders on fifth-degree felony community control who engage in conduct constituting a
new felony offense. State v. Shaffer, 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2017-12-064, 2018-Ohio
5297, 15. See also, State v. Walsson, 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2018-02-004, 2018
Ohio-4485, 13.
{ 12} Eckert tested positive for methamphetamine while serving community control
upon five fifth-degree felonies. The use of methamphetamine is a felony pursuant to R.C.
2925.11(C)(1). Thus, Eckert committed a violation of the law, a new felony, while under
fifth-degree felony community control. Therefore, the 90-day prison term limitation of R.C.
2929.15(B)(1)(c)(i) is explicitly inapplicable to Eckert and the trial court did not err in
imposing the 36-month prison term.
{ 13} In light of the above, we find the trial court did not err in finding R.C.
Clermont CA2018-06-038

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2929.14(B)(1)(c)(i) does not apply to Eckert. While the trial court was incorrect in finding
the statute was inapplicable to Eckert because he was on community control for multiple
fifth-degree felony offenses, it correctly determined that Eckert is not entitled to the 90-day
prison term limitation because he engaged in conduct constituting a new felony offense.

Outcome: Accordingly, Eckert's sentence is not clearly and convincingly contrary to law
and his sole assignment of error is overruled.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:

Comments:



 
 
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