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State v. Hutchinson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

July 8, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,
v.
JOHN J. HUTCHINSON, Appellant.

          CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. CR2018-05-0880

          Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, Willa Concannon, Government Services Center, for appellee

          Christopher Paul Frederick, for appellant

          OPINION

          S. POWELL, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, John J. Hutchinson, appeals the decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas sentencing him to serve 17 months in prison after he pled guilty to one count of assault of a peace officer. For the reasons outlined below, we affirm the trial court's sentencing decision.

         {¶ 2} On August 3, 2018, Hutchinson pled guilty to one count of assault of a peace officer. The charges arose after Hutchinson elbowed and repeatedly punched a police officer in the face during an altercation at a public utilities' office in the presence of both his fiancé and his young child. After engaging Hutchinson in the necessary plea colloquy, the trial court accepted Hutchinson's guilty plea. Upon accepting Hutchinson's guilty plea, the trial court then sentenced Hutchinson to serve 17 months in prison with 152 days of jail-time credit. The trial court also ordered Hutchinson to pay a fine of $500 and notified Hutchinson he would subject to an optional postrelease control term of up to three years upon his release from prison.

         {¶ 3} Hutchinson now appeals the trial court's sentencing decision, raising the following single assignment of error for review.

         {¶ 4} THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED ERROR WHEN IT SENTENCED MR. HUTCHINSON TO A TERM OF 17 MONTHS IN ODRC.

         {¶ 5} In his single assignment of error, Hutchinson argues the trial court erred by sentencing him to serve 17 months in prison. We disagree.

         {¶ 6} As with all felony sentences, we review the trial court's sentencing decision under the standard of review set forth in R.C. 2953.08(G)(2). State v. Marcum, 146 Ohio St.3d 516, 2016-Ohio-1002, ¶ 1. Pursuant to that statute, this court may modify or vacate a sentence only if, by clear and convincing evidence, "the record does not support the trial court's findings under relevant statutes or that the sentence is otherwise contrary to law." State v. Harp, 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2015-12-096, 2016-Ohio-4921, ¶ 7. A sentence is not clearly and convincingly contrary to law where the trial court "considers the principles and purposes of R.C. 2929.11, as well as the factors listed in R.C. 2929.12, properly imposes postrelease control, and sentences the defendant within the permissible statutory range." State v. Ahlers, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2015-06-100, 2016-Ohio-2890, ¶ 8. This court may therefore "increase, reduce, or otherwise modify a sentence only when it clearly and convincingly finds that the sentence is (1) contrary to law or (2) unsupported by the record." State v. Brandenburg, 146 Ohio St.3d 221, 2016-Ohio-2970, ¶ 1, citing Marcum at ¶ 7.

         {¶ 7} Hutchinson argues the trial court's sentencing decision must be reversed because the sentence imposed does not align with the purposes and principles of felony sentencing. Hutchinson also argues the trial court's sentencing decision was improper because it was not commensurate with the seriousness of his conduct. Hutchinson supports this argument by noting the allegations set forth during mitigation that he had suffered significant physical abuse as a child, as well as purported life-threatening injuries after he was hit by a car in the summer of 2002. Hutchinson also notes the fact that he had already served 152 days in jail prior to the sentencing hearing, that he showed genuine remorse for his conduct by entering a guilty plea, and that the police officer he assaulted was not seriously injured. Therefore, because he had been plagued by various issues throughout his life, and because the police officer he assaulted did not suffer serious physical harm, Hutchinson argues the trial court's sentencing decision was not supported by the record.

         {¶ 8} Contrary to Hutchinson's claim, we find nothing improper in the trial court's sentencing decision. The trial court had discretion to determine the most effective way to comply with the purposes and principles of sentencing set forth in section 2929.11 after considering the serious and recidivism factors listed in R.C. 2929.12. Those purposes and principles are (1) to protect the public from future crime by the offender and others, (2) to punish the offender, and (3) to promote the effective rehabilitation of the offender using the minimum sanctions that the court determines accomplish those purposes without imposing an unnecessary burden on state or local government resources. The trial court properly exercised its discretion by finding a 17-month prison sentence was the minimum sanction necessary to accomplish those purposes and principles in light of the crime charged. This is true despite the fact that the trial court had the option of sentencing Hutchinson to a shorter prison term or to a period of community control.

         {¶ 9} It is clear that Hutchinson disagrees with the trial court's decision in determining the most effective way to comply with the purposes and principles of sentencing set forth in section 2929.11. It is also clear that Hutchinson disagrees with the trial court's analysis and balancing of the seriousness and recidivism factors in R.C. 2929.12. However, rather than this court, it is the trial court that, "in imposing a sentence, determines the weight afforded to any particular statutory factors, mitigating grounds, or other relevant circumstances." State v. Steger, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2016-03-059, 2016-Ohio-7908, ¶ 18, citing State v. Stubbs, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 13AP-810, 2014-Ohio-3696, ¶ 16. The fact that the trial court chose to weigh the various sentencing factors differently than how Hutchinson would have liked does not mean the trial court erred in imposing Hutchinson's sentence. State v. Liming, 12th Dist. Clermont Nos. CA2018-05-028 and CA2018-05-029, 2019-Ohio-82, ¶ 33, citing State v. Abrams, 12th Dist. Clermont Nos. CA2017-03-018 and CA2017-03-019, 2017-Ohio-8536, ¶ 17. Hutchinson's claim otherwise lacks merit.

         {¶ 10} Hutchinson also argues the trial court's sentencing decision must be reversed because the trial court failed to give proper consideration to either the principles and purposes of felony sentencing as set forth in R.C. 2929.11 or the serious and recidivism factors listed in R.C. 2929.12. Hutchinson cites nothing in the record to support his argument. See App.R. 16(A)(7) (appellant must include in his or her brief "citations to the authorities, statutes, and parts of the record on which appellant relies"). However, even if he did, the record indicates the trial court considered the ...


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