Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the South Euclid Municipal Court Case
No. TRD 1800233A
Michael Lograsso, Law Director, City of South Euclid, and
Anthony J. Bondra, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for
V. Bickerstaff, pro se.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, J.
1} Defendant-appellant, Brenda V. Bickerstaff
("Bickerstaff"), appeals her sentence. For the
reasons that follow, we affirm in part; modify in part; and
2} In January 2018, Bickerstaff was issued a traffic
citation for violating South Euclid Codified Ordinances
("S.E.C.O.") 331.34(c), full time and attention, a
fourth-degree misdemeanor; S.E.C.O. 337.27(b)(1), driver seat
belt, a minor misdemeanor; and S.E.C.O. 335.09(a)(1), failure
to display a front license plate, a fourth-degree
misdemeanor. The citation also noted that she was given a
warning for "R.O.W." (right of way). Bickerstaff
pleaded not guilty.
3} On July 25, 2018, the case was scheduled for a
bench trial. Bickerstaff attempted to plead "no
contest" to the charges; however, during the plea
colloquy, she alleged that she was threatened by the
prosecutor, which caused her to want to change her plea.
After a lengthy conversation with the trial court, the court
declined to accept Bickerstaff s plea because in light of the
allegations she was making, the plea would not be voluntary.
4} Immediately thereafter, a bench trial was
conducted, and the city presented testimony from Officer
William Lozar, who issued the citation to Bickerstaff. The
city also played the video recording from the body camera
that Officer Lozar was wearing during the traffic stop. At
the conclusion of the trial, the court found Bickerstaff not
guilty of the full-time-and-attention offense, but guilty of
not wearing her driver's seat belt and not displaying a
front license plate.
Bickerstaff was sentenced immediately following the trial; no
presentence investigation report was ordered. After a lengthy
sentencing hearing, the trial court ultimately sentenced
Bickerstaff on the offense for failing to display a front
license plate to serve 30 days in jail, with 25 days
suspended; pay a $200 fine plus court costs; serve six months
of reporting probation; perform 75 hours of
community service; be subject to random drug and alcohol
screening; and to "not commit no same or similar
offenses or other." On the seatbelt violation,
Bickerstaff was ordered to pay a $30 fine. Her sentence was
stayed pending appeal.
6} Bickerstaff now appeals, raising the following
three assignments of error, which will be addressed
I. The imposition of a sentence of community control,
incarceration, 75 hours of community service[, ] and drug and
alcohol screening for the crime of failure to display a
license plate for a first[-]time offender constitutes an
abuse of discretion.
II. It is patently obvious that the sentence imposed on
appellant was not reasonable, proportional, or consistent
with sentences imposed for similarly-situated defendants for
commission of a fourth-degree misdemeanor of failure to
display a front license plate.
III. The imposition of a sentence of probation or community
control, incarceration, 75 hours of community service, and
drug and alcohol screening violated appellant's Fifth and