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State v. Hill

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 6, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
CARLTON HILL, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-17-621278-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jeffrey Schnatter and Fallon Radigan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.

          Ruth Fischbein-Cohen, for appellant


          SEAN C. GALLAGHER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant Carlton Hill appeals from his convictions and sentence entered in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Upon review, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} Appellant was charged in a 14-count indictment with offenses involving two different victims. At his arraignment, appellant was declared indigent and appointed counsel. He entered a not guilty plea to all counts.

         {¶ 3} Pursuant to a plea agreement, appellant withdrew his former plea and entered a plea of guilty to Count 1, as amended, sexual battery, a felony of the third degree, having occurred on or about April 1, 2001, to June 30, 2001, and involving victim one; and a plea of guilty to Counts 11 and 12, each charging gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth degree, having occurred on or about May 12, 2017, and involving victim two. Because of the dates of these offenses, appellant was subject to sex-offender classification under both Megan's Law and the Adam Walsh Act. All remaining counts were nolled.

         {¶ 4} At the change-of-plea hearing, the trial court conducted a thorough colloquy with appellant that complied with Crim.R. 11. The trial court informed appellant of the nature of the charges to which he was pleading, the maximum penalties for the charges, and the rights he would be waiving by entering a guilty plea. The court explained to appellant that at the time of sentencing, a hearing would be held to determine his sexual-offender status with regard to Count 1, which would require a determination of whether he is a sexually violent predator, a habitual offender, or a sexually oriented offender. The court also informed appellant that a different law applied to the offenses for gross sexual imposition because of the dates involved and that he would be found a Tier I offender by operation of law with regard to those offenses. The court informed appellant of his duties and the registration requirements associated with the respective laws. Appellant expressed his satisfaction with the representation by his trial counsel. He continuously expressed his understanding during the hearing.

         {¶ 5} Subsequent to entering his plea, appellant retained his own counsel and filed a motion to vacate his plea. The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion. Appellant testified that he works as a security guard and has a license. He stated he was concerned about his employment. He acknowledged that there were a number of pretrials that he attended during the pendency of the case. He claimed he was rushed into the plea agreement and that he did not know about the registration requirements until the change-of-plea hearing. He acknowledged that the court went through all of the registration requirements. He stated he was nervous and was not in his right mind when he entered his guilty pleas, and he maintained his innocence. Appellant's wife testified appellant was frantic when he called her on the day of his change-of-plea hearing. Because of attorney-client privilege, appellant's previous counsel provided limited testimony at the hearing. In addition to the testimony provided, the trial court considered appellant's motion and his affidavit, the response by the prosecutor, and the plea transcript. The trial court denied the motion.

         {¶ 6} At sentencing, the parties stipulated to a finding that appellant is a "sexually-oriented offender" as related to Count 1. Appellant was classified by operation of law as a Tier I sex offender on Counts 11 and 12. The trial court imposed a prison term of 18 months on each count, with all counts run concurrent to each other. The trial court imposed mandatory postrelease control of five years. Appellant was declared indigent, and court costs were waived.

         {¶ 7} Appellant timely filed this appeal. He raises three assignments of error for review.

         {¶ 8} Under his first assignment of error, appellant claims the trial court erred by imposing the maximum prison term of 18 months on Counts 11 and 12. He argues that the trial court failed to consider the relevant factors under R.C. 2929.12 and that the sentence is not supported by the record. Appellant points to mitigating factors in the record, which he argues were ignored by the trial court and support a shorter sentence.

         {¶ 9} When sentencing a defendant, a trial court must consider the purposes and principles of felony sentencing set forth in R.C. 2929.11 and the sentencing factors listed in R.C. 2929.12. State v. Rouse, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 107379, 2019-Ohio-708, ¶ 9. Pursuant to RC. 2929.12, a court sentencing a felony offender "has discretion to determine the most effective way to comply with the purposes and principles of sentencing." R.C. 2929.12(A). In exercising that discretion, the sentencing court must consider the seriousness, recidivism, and mitigating factors set forth in R.C. 2929.12. Id. However, the court is not required to make specific findings on the record regarding its consideration of those factors. State v. Townsend, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 107458, 2019-Ohio-1442, ¶ 13; see also State v. Wilson, 129 Ohio St.3d 214, 2011-Ohio-2669, 951 N.E.2d 381, ¶ 31. Furthermore, a trial court is not required "'to make findings or give their reasons for imposing maximum, consecutive, or more than the minimum sentence.'" State v. Sergent, 148 Ohio St.3d 94, 2016-Ohio-2696, 69 N.E.3d 627, ¶ 34, quoting State v. Foster, 109 Ohio St.3d 1, 2006-Ohio-856, 845 N.E.2d 470, paragraph seven of the syllabus.

         {¶ 10} Appellate courts generally afford deference to a trial court's broad discretion in making sentencing decisions. State v. Rahab,150 Ohio St.3d 152, 2017-Ohio-1401, 80 N.E.3d 431, ΒΆ 10. Under R.C. 2953.08(G)(2), "an appellate court may vacate or modify a felony sentence on appeal only if it determines by clear and convincing evidence that the record does not support the ...

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