(2) The Court also rejected the claim of double jeopardy, which does not require preservation. The prohibition against double jeopardy does not create a blanket rule that a court may never correct an error by increasing a defendant’s sentence. As held in US v. DiFrancesco (1980) “a sentence does not have the qualities of constitutional finality that attend an acquittal”. Nevertheless, as the Court of Appeals noted in subsequent Williams case citing DiFrancesco, the prohibition against double jeopardy does not mean that a defendant’s sentence may not be increased “once the criminal defendant has a legitimate expectation in the finality of the sentence”. At issue in Williams and its companion cases was whether the terms of post-release supervision (PRS) could be added to the sentences of defendants who had illegally received determinate sentences lacking the PRS component. Applying the legitimate-expectation-of-finality rule, the Criminal Court held that PRS terms could not be added to the defendants’ sentences “after the defendants had satisfied the original judgments of the respective sentencing courts and been released from incarceration at the termination of their sentences of imprisonment”, and after the People’s time to appeal from the illegal sentences had expired.
In this case, although the defendant, like the Williams defendants, was not resentenced until after he had been released, there are significant differences between these two cases that, the Court saw a compelling different result in the instant case: (a) in each of the Williams cases, the defendant had “completed his original sentence of imprisonment” in accordance with the only reasonable interpretation of the sentencing court’s actual sentence pronouncement: the sentencing court had pronounced only a sentence of incarceration and had not pronounced a term of PRS. In this case, by contrast, the defendant could not reasonably have understood the court’s sentencing pronouncement to have meant that the court was sentencing him to no additional time; (b) after having duly served the pronounced sentences as reasonably understood by the defendants in Williams they acquired a legitimate expectation of finality.
The same cannot be said of defendant in the instant case; (c) the court’s conclusion was reinforced by the following observation of the Court of Appeals in Williams: “This analysis has no application to a person who, for example, is erroneously released early by DOCS (Department of Correctional Services)”. Although defendant in the instant case was perhaps, strictly speaking, not released because of a mistake on the part of jail personnel, his release stemmed from a communication gap between the District Court and jail personnel; and finally (4) the expiration of the People’s time to appeal from an illegal sentence does not, without more, afford a defendant a legitimate expectation of finality. Analogously, in this case, the inability of the People to challenge the violation of probation sentence as construed by the jail personnel did not, standing alone, afford defendant a legitimate expectation of finality.