Michael R. Huff, Athens, Ohio, for Appellant.
K. Stanley, Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney, Pomeroy, Ohio,
DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
P. Smith, Presiding Judge
This is an appeal from a Meigs County Common Pleas Court
judgment of conviction and sentence. Appellant, Natasha
Tackett, pled guilty to one count of breaking and entering, a
fifth-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2911.13(A), and one
count trafficking in drugs, a fifth-degree felony in
violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(2). The trial court sentenced
Appellant to twelve-month prison terms for each offense and
ordered that the prison terms be served consecutively. On
appeal, Appellant contends that the trial court committed
error by imposing consecutive sentences without making all of
the findings mandated by R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) and properly
incorporating the statutory findings into the sentencing
entries. Because the trial court failed to make the required
findings before imposing consecutive sentences and also
failed to incorporate the necessary findings into the
sentencing entries, we conclude Appellant's sole
assignment of error is meritorious and it is sustained.
Accordingly, the sentences imposed by the trial court are
hereby vacated and the matter is remanded to the trial court
for a new sentencing hearing.
Appellant, Natasha Tackett, was indicted on February 15, 2018
for one count of breaking and entering, a fifth-degree felony
in violation of R.C. 2911.13(A), stemming from an incident
that occurred on January 3, 2018. She was later indicted on
April 11, 2018, on one count of trafficking in drugs, a
fifth-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(2) and
(C)(2)(a), stemming from an incident that occurred on
September 21, 2017. The two cases proceeded through the
litigation process below and were never consolidated.
However, it appears Appellant entered into plea negotiations
with the State which resulted in her entering guilty pleas to
both charges in exchange for a jointly recommended sentence.
The terms of the plea agreement required Appellant to enter
guilty pleas to both charges in exchange for the State's
recommendation that she be sentenced to a twelve-month prison
term for her conviction for trafficking in drugs, and that
she be sentenced to a five-year term of community control for
her breaking and entering conviction, to be served upon
completion of her prison term.
On the day of her sentencing hearing Appellant submitted to a
drug screen. The trial court stated on the record that the
results of the drug screen indicated Appellant had
Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Suboxone and "Oxy"
in her system. Appellant disputed the results of the
screen and asked for further testing, however, the record
before us does not contain any further test results or
updated information. Thereafter, by separate entries dated
August 30, 2018, the trial court sentenced Appellant to
twelve-month prison terms for both offenses and ordered them
to be served consecutively for a total prison term of
Appellant filed a pro se motion for leave to file delayed
appeals in both cases on February 7, 2019. Her motion was
granted by this Court on April 3, 2019. These cases were
consolidated for purposes of appeal and Appellant was
appointed counsel. Now, on appeal, Appellant raises a single
assignment of error for our review and consideration.
"THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED ERROR BY IMPOSING CONSECUTIVE
SENTENCES BUT FAILED TO MAKE ALL THE FINDINGS MANDATED BY
R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) AND PROPERLY INCORPORATING ITS STATUTORY
FINDINGS INTO THE SENTENCING ENTRIES."
In her sole assignment of error Appellant contends that the
trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences without
making all of the findings required by R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) and
without properly incorporating the necessary statutory
findings into the sentencing entries. More specifically,
Appellant argues that the trial court "failed to comment
in any way on the proportionality language of the initial
language of (C)(4)" and thus failed to find "that
consecutive sentences are not disproportionate to the
seriousness of the offender's conduct and to the danger
the offender poses to the public." Appellant further
argues that although the trial court stated consecutive
sentences were "necessary to protect the public,"
it failed to further state that they were necessary to
protect the public "from future crime." Appellant
also notes that although the trial court found the offenses
were "part of a course of conduct," the offenses
were committed on two different dates and were unrelated.
Finally, Appellant argues that the trial court failed to
incorporate the necessary findings into the sentencing
entries, and instead simply stated "the Court makes the
appropriate findings to impose said consecutive sentence as
required by Section 2929.14(C)(4) of the Revised Code."
The State responds by arguing that "[t]he trial court
did not commit error by imposing consecutive sentences
because the trial court made all the findings mandated by
R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) and properly incorporated its statutory
findings into the sentencing entries."
Generally, appellate courts review felony sentences under the
standard set forth in R.C. 2953.08(G)(2). State v
Blanton, 4th Dist. Adams No. 16CA1031, 2018-Ohio-1275,
¶ 97; State v. Bever, 4th Dist. Washington No.
13CA21, 2014-Ohio-600, ¶ 13. That statute directs an
appellate court to "review the record, including the
findings underlying the sentence," and to modify or
vacate the sentence "if it clearly and convincingly
finds * * * (a) [t]hat the record does not support the
sentencing court's findings under division * * * (C)(4)
of section 2929.14 * * * of the Revised Code * * * [or] (b)
[t]hat the sentence is otherwise contrary to law." R.C.
2953.08(G)(2). This means that the appellate court must
clearly and convincingly find that the record does not
support the trial court's findings, which is an extremely
deferential standard of review. Blanton at ¶
99; State v. Bass, 4th Dist. Washington No. 16CA32,
2017-Ohio-7059, ¶ 7.
"[I]n order to impose consecutive terms of imprisonment,
a trial court is required to make findings mandated by R.C.
2929.14(C)(4) at the sentencing hearing and incorporate its
findings into its sentencing entry, but it has no obligation
to state reasons to support its findings." State v.
Bonnell, 140 Ohio St.3d 209, 2014-Ohio-3177, 16 N.E.3d
659, ¶ 29. A failure to make the findings required by
R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) renders a consecutive sentence contrary to
law. State v. Bever, supra, at ¶ 17;
State v. Stamper, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2012-08-
166, 2013-Ohio-5669, ¶ 23. Specifically, the sentencing
court must find, pursuant to R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) that: (1)
"the consecutive sentence is necessary to protect the
public from future crime or to punish the offender"; (2)