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State v. Gates

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

November 21, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RONNELL L. GATES, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-18-631206-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jeffrey M. Maver, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Christopher R. Fortunato, for appellant EILEEN A GALLAGHER, J.:

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          EILEEN A. GALLAGHER, JUDGE

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Ronnell Gates appeals his nine-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to attempted improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, a fifth-degree felony. On appeal, Gates raises one assignment of error in which he challenges his sentence:

         The trial court erred in sentencing the appellant to a term of incarceration rather than imposing a community control sanction.

         For the reasons that follow, we dismiss the appeal as moot.

         {¶2} During routine patrol, Bedford police stopped a car Gates was driving.[1] Following a search of the vehicle, police discovered a loaded firearm. Gates was indicted with one count of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, a fourth-degree felony. He pleaded guilty to an amended fifth-degree felony count of attempted improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle and the attached specification that required Gates to forfeit the firearm.

         {¶3} Review of the record reflects that the trial court sentenced Gates to nine months in prison on November 28, 2018. There is no indication in the record this sentence was stayed pending appeal. There is no dispute that more than nine months has elapsed from the time Gates began serving his sentence. Moreover, there is no claim that Gates has not served his entire sentence. We thus presume that Gates completed his sentence. Accordingly, his assigned error challenging only his sentence is therefore moot. See State v. Wright, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 83781, 2004-Ohio-4077, ¶ 18 ("Any appeal of a sentence already served is moot."); see also State v. Santiago, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 101612, 2015-Ohio-1301, ¶ 9 ("[B]ecause [the defendant] is no longer serving his sentence, there is no remedy this court may provide.").

         {¶4} Nevertheless, even if we were to address the merits of Gates' assignment of error we would find no merit to his claim.

         {¶5} Gates argues that the court erred by imposing a prison sentence because he claims it was required to impose a community control sanction pursuant to R.C. 2929.13(B)(1)(a).[2]

         {¶ 6} This court reviews felony sentences pursuant to the standard of review outlined in R.C. 2953.08(G)(2). State v. Marcum, 146 Ohio St.3d 516, 2016-Ohio-1002, 59 N.E.3d 1231, ¶ 22. In relevant part, R.C. 2953.08(G)(2) provides that an appellate court's standard of review is not whether the sentencing court abused its discretion." Instead, the statute empowers an appellate court to disturb a sentence if:

[I]t clearly and convincingly finds either of the following:
(a) That the record does not support the sentencing court's findings under division (B) or (D) of section 2929.13, division (B)(2)(e) or (C)(4) of section 2929.14, or division (I) of section 2929.20 of ...

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