State v. Althouse

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 06-16-2016
  • Case #: S062909
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kistler, J., for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; Walters, Landau, Baldwin, & Nakamoto, JJ.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 138.222(2)(a), any presumptive sentence prescribed by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission may not be reviewed on direct appeal. In reviewing a challenge to a presumptive sentence under Article I, section 16 of the Oregon Constitution courts considers three factors: (1) a comparison of the severity of the penalty and the gravity of the crime, (2) a comparison of the penalties imposed for other, related crimes, and (3) the criminal history of the defendant.

Defendant was convicted of felony public indecency after being convicted of three other felony sex crimes. Pursuant to ORS 137.719(1), the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment without opinion. The Court allowed Defendant’s petition for review to consider two issues: whether ORS 138.222(2)(a) bars direct appellate review of a presumptive sentence imposed pursuant to ORS 137.719(1) and, if not, whether defendant’s sentence is unconstitutional as applied. In regards to the first issue, the Court found that the OCJC acted without authority to find that the sentence imposed on Defendant did not fall within the class of sentences envisioned by ORS 138.222(2)(a). As for the second issue, the Court gives great deference to legislative determinations regarding presumptive sentences. In determining whether the presumptive sentence violates a defendant's constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishments under Article I, section 16 of the Oregon constitution, the Court considered three factors: (1) a comparison of the severity of the penalty and the gravity of the crime, (2) a comparison of the penalties imposed for other, related crimes, and (3) the criminal history of the defendant. The Court found that given Defendant's significant criminal history there was no reason to hold that his sentence of life in prison without parole was disproportionate. Affirmed.

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