State v. Cuevas

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 11-13-2015
  • Case #: S062464
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kistler, J. for the Court, joined by Balmer, C.J.; Linder, J.; & Baldwin, J.; Walters, J. dissenting, joined by Landau, J; & Brewer; J.
  • Full Text Opinion

OAR 213-012-0020(2) and OAR 213-004-0006(2) do not require a jury determination of whether multiple convictions sentenced in a single judicial proceeding arose out of separate criminal episodes, because each rule serves as an exception to reduce a total criminal sentence, thereby not triggering the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Apprendi.

The Court in this case addressed the constitutionality in applying the sentencing guidelines OAR 213-004-0006(2) and 213-012-0020(2), without a jury determination as to whether each sentenced conviction arises from a separate criminal episode. OAR 213-004-0006(2) requires a trial court to decide whether to count each conviction as part of the defendant’s criminal history when sentencing each other conviction. OAR 213-012-0020(2) limits the total length of an aggregate consecutive sentence. Defendant was convicted of 10 counts of rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse against two different children in three separate locations. Defendant argues that his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution were violated because his convictions were sentenced as arising out of separate episodes, a factual issue, which was not decided by the jury. Defendant argues that this violates Apprendi, 530 U.S. 466 (2000). The Court disagreed, and explained that Apprendi only applies where the length of an imposed sentence increases beyond the prescribed statutory maximum, whereas here, OAR 213-012-0020(2) reduced Defendant’s sentence below the statutory maximum. Turning to OAR 213-004-0006(2), Defendant argues that a jury must decide whether multiple convictions arise from the same criminal episode before calculating convictions into a defendant’s prior criminal history when sentencing subsequent convictions. Relying on the same reasoning as the first issue, the Court determined that Apprendi does not apply because the rule is an exception which applies to limit a sentence, and therefore a jury determination is not required. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals and trial court decisions are affirmed.

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