Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto

About MoreLaw
Contact MoreLaw

Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.

Help support the publication of case reports on MoreLaw

Date: 12-05-2018

Case Style:


Case Number: 2018MT 290

Judge: Laurie McKinnon


Plaintiff's Attorney: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Madison L. Mattioli, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
ScottTwito, Yellowstone County Attorney

Defendant's Attorney: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Danny Tenenbaum, Assistant Appellate Defender


In October 2014, Coleman entered a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to
a single count of Sexual Intercourse Without Consent. A few months later, the District
Court sentenced Coleman, committing him to the Montana State Prison for thirty years
with ten years suspended. The court further ordered various probation conditions for any
period of community supervision, including Condition Forty-Five, which provided,
“[Coleman] shall not have a cell phone, or such other technology/device with photo,
video, or Internet capabilities.” Coleman did not object to Condition Forty-Five at or
before sentencing. Coleman now appeals the condition and asks this Court to strike it
from his sentence.
STANDARD OF REVIEW ¶4 We review criminal sentences for legality—that is, whether the sentence is within
statutory parameters. State v. Cleveland, 2014 MT 305, ¶10, 377 Mont. 97,
338P.3d606 (citing State v. Montoya, 1999 MT 180, ¶15, 295 Mont. 288,
983P.2d937); State v. Lenihan, 184 Mont. 338, 342-43, 602 P.2d 997, 999-1000 (1979).
DISCUSSION ¶5 Coleman argues that Condition Forty-Five is illegal because it is an overly-broad
restriction on his First Amendment freedom of speech. Because Coleman did not present
this argument to the District Court, however, we must address whether he may raise itfor
the first time on appeal.
¶6 When a court suspends a portion of a criminal sentence, the court may impose on
the offender any “reasonable restrictions or conditions considered necessary for
rehabilitation or for the protection of the victim or society.” Section 46-18-201(4)(p),
MCA; see also §46-18-202(c), MCA (“The sentencing judge may also
impose...restrictions on the offender’s freedom of association.”). Overly broad or
unduly punitive conditions are not reasonable. State v. Zimmerman, 2010 MT 44, ¶17,
355 Mont. 286, 228 P.3d 1109 (citing State v. Muhammad, 2002 MT 47, ¶28,
309Mont.1, 43 P.3d 318).
¶7 Generally, a defendant must object to a condition at or before sentencing. Failure
to object may result in waiver—we will not hold a district court in error based on an
objection raised for the first time on appeal. State v. Ashby, 2008 MT 83, ¶22,
342Mont. 187, 179 P.3d 1164(citing State v. Kotwicki, 2007 MT 17, ¶8,335 Mont. 344,
151 P.3d 892). However, pursuant to State v. Lenihan, we permit a defendant to
challenge the legality of his sentence for the first time on appeal. Lenihan,
184Mont.At343, 602 P.2d at 1000; see also Ashby, ¶22. In so doing, we differentiate
between an “illegal” sentence and an “objectionable” sentence. State v. Strong,
2009MT65, ¶11, 349 Mont. 417, 203 P.3d 848. “A sentencing condition is illegal if the
sentencing court lacked statutory authority to impose it, if the condition falls outside the
parameters set by the applicable sentencing statutes, or if the court did not adhere to the
affirmative mandates of the applicable sentencing statutes.” State v. Heddings,
2008MT402, ¶11, 347 Mont. 169, 198 P.3d 242 (citing State v. Stephenson,
2008MT64, ¶15, 342 Mont. 60, 179 P.3d 502). While we may address illegal sentences
for the first time on appeal, we refuse to address objectionable sentences not challenged
below. Ashby, ¶22; Heddings, ¶¶19-21.
¶8 We similarly differentiate between the types of constitutional challenges to a
sentence that we will address for the first time on appeal. State v. Parkhill, 2018 MT 69,
¶16, 391 Mont. 114, 414 P.3d 1244 (citing State v. Robertson, 2015 MT 266, ¶12,
381Mont. 75, 364 P.3d 580). “[A] claim that a statute authorizing a sentence is
unconstitutional on its face may be raised for the first time on appeal, but the exception
does not apply to as-applied constitutional challenges.” Parkhill, ¶16. For example, in
State v. Ellis, 2007 MT 210, ¶¶7, 10, 339 Mont. 14, 167 P.3d 896, we addressed a
defendant’s facial constitutional challenge to a sentencing statute for the first time on
appeal. However, in State v. Mainwaring, 2007 MT 14, ¶20, 335 Mont. 322,
151P.3d53, we declined to address a defendant’s argument that his sentence itself was
unconstitutional for the first time on appeal.
¶9 Distinguishing between facial and as-applied constitutional challenges when
considering which a defendant may bringfor the first time on appeal makes sense in light
of Lenihan. See Strong, ¶13. A defendant’s facial constitutional challenge is based on
the defendant’s allegation that the statute upon which his sentence was based is
unconstitutional—i.e., his sentence is illegal. Therefore, we address facial constitutional
challenges to sentencing statutes even if they are raised for the first time on appeal.
Strong, ¶12 (citing Ellis, ¶7). O n the other hand, a defendant’s as-applied
constitutionalchallenge is based on the defendant’s allegation that his sentence is
unconstitutional—i.e., his sentence is objectionable. Accordingly, we will not address
as-applied constitutional challenges to sentencing conditions raised for the first time on
appeal. Strong, ¶¶13, 15 (citing Mainwaring, ¶20, and Heddings, ¶20); Parkhill,
¶¶15-16 (concluding the defendant’s general objections to two of his sentencing
conditions before the district court did not sufficiently preserve his as-applied
constitutional arguments on appeal).
¶10 On appeal, Coleman argues Condition Forty-Five is “facially unconstitutional” in
light of the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision Packingham v. North
Carolina, 582 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 1730 (2017). In Packingham, the Supreme Court
struck down a state statute prohibiting convicted sex offenders from accessing certain
social networking websites or maintaining personal webpages. Packingham,
582U.S. at___, 137 S. Ct. at 1733, 1737. The Supreme Court reasoned that the statute
violated the offenders’ First Amendment freedom of speech because it was overly broad;
the statute burdened substantially more speech than was necessary. Packingham,
582U.S. at ___, 137 S. Ct.at 1737.
¶11 Coleman reasons that Condition Forty-Five, which prohibits him from possessing
any device with photo, video, or Internet capabilities, is similarly an overly broad burden
on his First Amendment rights. However, unlike in Packingham, where the defendant
challenged the facial constitutionality of a state statute, here Coleman does not argue a
Montana statute is facially unconstitutional. Rather, Coleman argues Condition
Forty-Five—a condition of his own sentence—is unconstitutional. Thus, Coleman’s
challenge to Condition Forty-Five is an as-applied constitutional challenge, one that we
will not review for the first time on appeal. See Parkhill, ¶16; Strong, ¶15. We hold
that Coleman waived his constitutional argument regarding Condition Forty-Five by not
raising it inthe District Court.
¶12 Coleman further urges us to exercise plain error review to analyze Condition
Forty-Five. We maychoose to review a claim under the common law plain error doctrine
when a criminal defendant’s fundamental rights are invoked and where failing to review
the claimed error may result in a manifest miscarriage of justice, may leave unsettled the
question of the fundamental fairness of the trial or proceedings, or may compromise the
integrity of the judicial process. State v. Taylor, 2010 MT 94, ¶12, 356 Mont. 167,
231P.3d 79 (citing State v. Jackson, 2009 MT 427, ¶42, 354 Mont. 63, 221 P.3d 1213).
Exercising plain error review over Coleman’s appeal would circumvent the
aforementioned rule that we will not review a defendant’s as-applied constitutional
challenge to his sentencing conditions for the first time on appeal. We accordingly
decline to exercise plain error review.

Outcome: We will review a defendant’s facial constitutional challenge to a sentencing statute for the first time on appeal, but a defendant waives an as-applied constitutional challenge to his sentence by failing to raise the issue before the district court. Coleman waived his right to appeal Condition Forty-Five, which barred him from possessing any device with photo, video, or Internet capabilities, by failing to previously object, and plain error review is not warranted in this case. We affirm the District Court’s imposed sentence.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


Home | Add Attorney | Add Expert | Add Court Reporter | Sign In
Find-A-Lawyer By City | Find-A-Lawyer By State and City | Articles | Recent Lawyer Listings
Verdict Corrections | Link Errors | Advertising | Editor | Privacy Statement
© 1996-2018 MoreLaw, Inc. - All rights reserved.