People v. Trujillo
Court Discusses Whether the Sentenced Imposed by the Court on a Persistent Offender was Excessive
The defendant was convicted of driving while intoxicated and sentenced to definite term of imprisonment of one year based on his criminal history and probation violation. The defendant had a long criminal history beginning from 1979 where he was charged with assault in the second degree, grand larceny, and leaving the scene of an accident, he was sentenced to period of probation as he was a youthful offender. In 1983 he was convicted of the class “C” felony of attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and sentenced to a sentence of five years of probation to run concurrent with a six-month term of imprisonment. In 1984 he was arrested for driving while intoxicated on three separate occasions but was convicted of one count of driving while intoxicated DWI and one count of driving while impaired. He received a sentence of probation and a fine. The defendant appealed the sentenced imposed of one year imprisonment for driving while intoxicated.
The majority in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court held that the defendant should be sentenced to five years of probation with special drug and alcohol abuse conditions. The matter was remitted to the Criminal Term to implement the special conditions. The record showed that the defendant was gainfully employed and participated in a program to combat his alcohol abuse. Albeit that the defendant violated his probation by driving while intoxicated immediately after his release from prison, it was in the interest of justice to amend his sentence. It would not have been beneficial to the community or the defendant if he was incarcerated as it would impede his rehabilitation.
The minority was of the Appellate Division believed that the court should not exercise discretion as the defendant had adequate opportunities to rehabilitate himself. The probationary sentence would be meaningless if the defendant were to be given another chance. The defendant started his third probationary period by being arrested for driving while intoxicated as such the defendant should face the consequences for his conduct.
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