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State v. Johnson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Adams

July 17, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DANIELLE JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Brian T. Goldberg, Cincinnati, Ohio, for appellant.

          David Kelley, Adams County Prosecutor, and Kris D. Blanton, Adams County Assistant Prosecutor, West Union, Ohio, for appellee.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

          HESS, J.

         {¶1} Danielle Johnson pleaded guilty to aggravated trafficking in drugs, a third-degree felony, and the trial court sentenced her to 30 months in prison. Johnson maintains her sentence is excessive. She argues she has a severe drug problem for which she has sought treatment, has participated in a program to obtain help with housing and other matters, accepted responsibility by pleading guilty, and acted as only a middle person in the drug transaction at issue. However, she failed to establish by the requisite clear and convincing evidence that her prison term is contrary to law or not supported by the record. Thus, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         I. FACTS

         {¶2} Johnson sold an undercover police officer approximately 6.9 grams of methamphetamine, and the Adams County grand jury indicted her on one count of aggravated trafficking in drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(1), a third-degree felony because the crime involved a Schedule II controlled substance in an amount equal to or greater than the bulk amount but less than five times the bulk amount. See R.C. 2925.03(C)(1)(c); R.C. 3719.41, Schedule II(C)(2); R.C. 2925.01(D)(1)(g). Johnson initially pleaded not guilty but later pleaded guilty as charged. At the change of plea hearing, Johnson told the court she acted as a "middle man" in the drug transaction.

         {¶3} The trial court accepted the plea, ordered a presentence investigation, and scheduled the sentencing hearing for June 20, 2018. Subsequently, Johnson violated the terms of her bond because she tested positive for use of methamphetamine. She failed to appear for the sentencing hearing, and the trial court ordered that a capias be issued for her arrest.

         {¶4} The sentencing hearing ultimately took place on January 9, 2019. Johnson's counsel explained that Johnson had entered Woodhaven Residential Center on July 13, 2018, and had been medically discharged on August 7, 2018. She went to the Southern Ohio Medical Center and received medical clearance, but Woodhaven would not allow her to return. Johnson then went to Recovery Counsel. She completed a residential program and at the time of sentencing was involved in a transitional program to obtain help with housing, employment, and legal matters. Johnson told the court that she had been clean for six months, and her father spoke on her behalf.

         {¶5} The trial court noted that Johnson received a high score on the Ohio Risk Assessment System, indicating she was likely to reoffend. She had "eight prior felony convictions, three misdemeanor convictions, and five felony juvenile convictions." Her community control had been revoked on two occasions, and she had violated conditions of bond multiple times. The court also found that she was not remorseful. After considering the record, oral statements, presentence investigation report, principles and purposes of felony sentencing in R.C. 2929.11(A), and seriousness and recidivism factors in R.C. 2929.12, the trial court sentenced her to 30 months in prison.

         II. ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         {¶6} Johnson assigns the following error for our review:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED TO THE PREJUDICE OF APPELLANT BY IMPOSING A SENTENCE OF THIRTY MONTHS, WHEN THAT SENTENCE WAS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE RECORD.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         {¶7} When reviewing felony sentences appellate courts must apply the standard of review set forth in R.C. 2953.08(G)(2). State v. Marcum,146 Ohio St.3d 516, 2016-Ohio-1002, 59 N.E.3d 1231, ΒΆ 1, 7. R.C. 2953.08(G)(2) provides that "[t]he appellate court's standard for review is not whether the sentencing court abused its discretion"; rather, the appellate court may increase, reduce, modify, ...


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