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State v. Martinez

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

August 21, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
VICTOR SANCHEZ MARTINEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Trial No. B-1704913

         Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Judith Anton Lapp, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          John D. Hill, Jr., for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          Mock, Presiding Judge.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Victor Sanchez Martinez ("Sanchez") appeals from the trial court's October 9, 2018 judgment entry finding that he violated his community-control sanctions and imposing a sentence of 12 months in prison. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Multiple Community Control Violations Result in Prison Sentence

         {¶2} On October 12, 2017, Sanchez entered a plea of guilty to one count of failing to provide notice of a change of his address, a felony of the fourth degree in violation of R.C. 2950.05. The trial court accepted that plea, found him guilty, and placed him on community control. One month later, the probation department notified the trial court that he had violated the terms of his community control. He had failed to report to the probation department on October 31. A letter was then sent to him, instructing him to report on November 15. On November 15, Sanchez again failed to report to the probation department. Additionally, Sanchez had failed to make any payments toward his court costs. On December 27, the trial court conducted a hearing and found that Sanchez had violated the terms of his community control, but allowed him to continue on community control.

         {¶3} On June 26, 2018, the probation department filed a notice with the trial court that Sanchez had again violated the terms of his community control. The report detailed that he had failed to appear in another case, resulting in a capias being issued, had been convicted of four new misdemeanor offenses, had failed to notify the probation department of a change of his residence, had again failed to report to the probation department as instructed on two additional occasions, and had failed to make any payments toward his court costs.

         {¶4} On October 9, the trial court conducted a hearing on the notice. During the course of the hearing, the trial court learned that Sanchez's new offenses stemmed mainly from his failure to cooperate with law enforcement when he encountered them. In January, Sanchez was at a friend's house when the police arrived and Sanchez gave the officer a fake name before fleeing from the home. This resulted in a charge of obstructing official business. In February, a police officer attempted to pull him over. Sanchez pulled into a parking lot, but drove away when the officer approached his car. This resulted in a charge of failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer. In March, Sanchez attacked two employees in a restaurant while he was intoxicated. This resulted in two charges of misdemeanor assault.

         {¶5} During the course of the hearing, the trial court became increasingly frustrated with Sanchez's answers, noting "You're avoiding answering my direct questions, which tells me there's a hell of a lot more there than what you are telling me." The trial court then reviewed the violation report from the previous December. After considering the information, the trial court concluded that "Mr. Sanchez, you're just, basically, ignoring the whole process." The trial court then revoked Sanchez's community control and sentenced him to 12 months in prison.

         {¶6} In his first assignment of error, Sanchez claims that the trial court should have imposed a sentence of 180 days instead of 12 months. In his second assignment of error, he claims that counsel was ineffective for failing to argue that the 12-month sentence was contrary to law. We will address the assignments together.

         A Pattern of Conduct Amounting to a Failure to Comply with the Conditions as a Whole

         {¶7} In 2017, the General Assembly substantially modified Ohio's sentencing scheme for community-control violations where the underlying offense is a felony of the fourth or fifth degree. R.C. 2929.15 now significantly narrows the discretion trial courts may exercise when sentencing a defendant after finding a violation of community control. If the defendant either violates the conditions of community control, or violates the law, or leaves the state without permission, the trial court may impose a prison sentence. See R.C. 2929.15(B)(1)(c). But the trial court is limited to imposing only 180 days for a felony of the fourth degree "if the prison term is imposed for any technical violation of ...


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