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State v. Hatfield

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Champaign

August 16, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
ERIC "BUBBA" LEE HATFIELD Defendant-Appellant

          Trial Court Case No. 2017-CR-184 (Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court)

          SAMUEL ADAM USMANI, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          FRANK MATTHEW BATZ, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          WELBAUM, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Eric Hatfield appeals from his conviction and sentence for aggravated possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony. Hatfield contends that the trial court erred in calculating the amount of a post-release control ("PRC") to be imposed under R.C. 2929.141(A)(1). In addition, Hatfield maintains that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by incorrectly calculating the PRC time and in failing to object to the time the trial court imposed.

         {¶ 2} Because Hatfield has completed his prison sentence, has been released from prison, and has not been placed on PRC there is no remedy we can provide. Accordingly, this appeal will be dismissed as moot.

         I. Facts and Course of Proceedings

         {¶ 3} In September 2017, Hatfield was indicted on two counts of aggravated possession of drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A), (C)(1)(a), both fifth-degree felonies, and illegal use of or possession of drug paraphernalia, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The charges were based on methamphetamine found on a plate and a card with residue at Hatfield's residence, and methamphetamine found in Hatfield's system, as demonstrated by the results of a urine drug screen. At the time of the crimes, Hatfield was on PRC for a prior felony.

         {¶ 4} On November 13, 2017, Hatfield agreed to plead guilty to count two of the indictment (concerning the methamphetamine found in his system), and the State asked the court to dismiss counts one and three of the indictment. During the plea hearing, the court noted that Hatfield had 203 days remaining on PRC when he committed the offense. Transcript of Plea Hearing, p. 7. At that time, the court informed Hatfield that if it decided to impose the penalty for violating PRC, Hatfield could be subjected to a total sentence of 12 months maximum prison time for the offense, plus 203 days for the PRC violation. Id. at p. 9. After being fully advised of his rights, Hatfield pled guilty. The court then accepted Hatfield's plea, found him guilty as charged, and set a sentencing hearing for December 11, 2017.

         {¶ 5} At the sentencing hearing, the court imposed a seven-month sentence for the drug possession charge and 203 days for the PRC violation. In the sentencing entry, the court also gave Hatfield 9 days of jail time credit. Hatfield timely appealed from the judgment of conviction.

         {¶ 6} On May 29, 2018, appointed counsel filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), indicating that counsel failed to find any meritorious issues for appeal. Counsel did suggest two assignments of error to aid in our independent review. One potential error was that the prison sentence was contrary to law because the trial court failed to consider the sentencing factors in R.C. 2929.11 and R.C. 2929.12. The other potential error was that Hatfield was improperly sentenced to 203 days of PRC. Counsel found no merit in either assignment of error. The State did not respond to the Anders brief.

         {¶ 7} On June 18, 2018, we notified Hatfield that his counsel had filed an Anders brief and gave him 60 days to file a pro se brief. However, Hatfield did not file a pro se brief. Subsequently, on November 5, 2018, we filed an entry in which we found that one of counsel's issues had arguable merit. See State v. Hatfield, 2d Dist. Champaign No. 2017-CA-36 (Nov. 5, 2018), p. 1. We noted that the term of the applicable PRC penalty (203 days) was calculated from a date other than the date of sentencing. Id. at p. 4. We stressed, however, that when the PRC penalty in R.C. 2929.141(A)(1) is imposed, trial courts must use the date of sentencing to calculate the days a defendant has remaining on PRC. Id., citing State v. Evilsizor, 2d Dist. Champaign No. 2017-CA-1, 2018-Ohio-3599.

         {¶ 8} We then appointed new counsel for Hatfield on December 4, 2018, and new counsel filed an appellate brief on January 4, 2019, raising two assignments of error. After the State responded, Hatfield filed ...


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