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State v. Tackett

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Meigs

December 3, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
NATASHA M. TACKETT, Defendant-Appellant.

          Michael R. Huff, Athens, Ohio, for Appellant.

          James K. Stanley, Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney, Pomeroy, Ohio, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

          Jason P. Smith, Presiding Judge

         {¶1} 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.

         FACTS

         {¶2} 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.

         {¶3} 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.[1] 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 twenty-four months.

         {¶4} 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.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         I. "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."

         LEGAL ANALYSIS

         {¶5} 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."

         {¶6} 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.

         {¶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, ΒΆ 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) ...


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