Consecutive Sentences OK for 10-Time DUI Offender

October 29, 2013

Concurrent sentences are served all at the same time.  Consecutive sentences run back to back.

William Richard Hicks appealed his convictions for several alcohol- and driving-related offenses—the most serious of which were DUI, 10th offense, and violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender (“HMVO”) statute.  Hicks was sentenced as a Range III, persistent offender to six years for each conviction, with the HMVO sentences to be served consecutively and the DUI and misdemeanor convictions to be served concurrently, making for a sentence of 18 years. Hicks argued that his sentences were excessive and that the court erred in ordering they be served consecutively.

The trial court stated that in DUI offenses, there was nothing more severe than a 10th offense as well as driving while habitual motor vehicle offender status was in effect.  HMVO was designed to keep repeat offenders from driving.  Hicks continued to drive—a HMVO and driving while intoxicated.  The trial court reasoned that to impose consecutive sentences served to protect the public from further conduct by Hicks, as each time he got behind the wheel while intoxicated [which was at least 10 times], he put the community in danger. In sentencing the defendant in this case, the trial court explained in detail its reasoning in setting the lengths of the sentences and determining that the HMVO six-year sentence should be served consecutively to his other cases.

The trial court also thought it necessary to confine him to avoid deprecating the seriousness of the offense:  Hicks had 10 DUIs, been ordered numerous times not to drive, but continued to do so. Less restrictive measures had frequently been tried in the past. Hicks had opportunities for probation, but was unsuccessful.

Judge Alan E. Glenn, J. delivered The Opinion of the Criminal Court of Appeals.  Judge Glenn stated that under the 2005 amendments to the sentencing act, a trial court must look at these factors when determining a defendant’s sentence and the appropriate combination of sentencing alternatives:

(1) The evidence, if any, received at the trial and the sentencing hearing;

(2) The presentence report;

(3) The principles of sentencing and arguments as to sentencing alternatives;

(4) The nature and characteristics of the criminal conduct involved;

(5) Evidence and information offered by the parties on the mitigating and enhancement factors set out in §§ 40–35–113 and 40–35–114;

(6) Any statistical information provided by the administrative office of the courts as to sentencing practices for similar offenses in Tennessee; and

(7) Any statement the defendant wishes to make in the defendant’s own behalf about sentencing.

Judge Glenn said that the trial court was permitted to order multiple sentences to run consecutively if it found by a preponderance of evidence that one or more of the seven factors listed in the Tennessee Code applied.  This included, the judge said, the fact that Hicks was an offender with an extensive record of criminal activity and was sentenced for an offense committed while on probation.  Additionally, if the court bases consecutive sentencing upon its classification of the defendant as a dangerous offender, it is required to find that an extended sentence is necessary to protect the public against further criminal conduct by the defendant and that the consecutive sentences reasonably relate to the severity of the offense committed.

The trial court explained in great detail the grounds for its sentencing decisions. Without question, Judge Glenn wrote, Hicks had “a horrendous record of arrests, convictions, and failures at attempts for rehabilitation.”  In the same light, the trial court explained that his horrendous record of DUI convictions and his continuing to drive while intoxicated demanded that he be confined for as long as possible to protect the public.  In short, Judge Glenn said, “If there were ever a case in which the trial court was justified in sentencing the defendant to the maximum terms and ordering that the sentences be served consecutively, this would appear to be it.”

Based upon the statutes and its reasoning, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgments of the trial court [remanding only for a clerical error].

 

State v. Hicks, Slip Copy, 2013 WL 5677351 (Tenn.Crim.App. Oct. 18, 2013).

 

Questions about DUI’s  suppression hearings, or other issues in a criminal case?

Kevin Patterson has been providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout the greater Memphis area since 1983.  Kevin will treat your legal issue with the dedicated service and attention it deserves. Call Kevin at (901) 300-4820 or e-mail him at kpatterson@kgplawfirm.com to talk to him about your legal matter.

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