OSPA Offers Practically Free Traffic-Stop Training for Rural Law Enforcement
Assistant State Prosecuting Attorney John R. Messinger will conduct a 4-hour presentation covering 4th Amendment issues with a focus on traffic stops. The presentation is accompanied by a paper (distributed in advance) and includes:
∙ Historical perspective
∙ In-depth coverage of controlling law
∙ Discussion of recent cases and pending issues
∙ A quiz!
This service is for small or rural counties that do not have the resources to send officers for training. Credit can be earned with a department’s approval.
Call ((512) 463-1660) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) John to schedule a training day for this August (August will be the only time the service is offered).
"What is the proper remedy when the defendant and the State 'charge bargain' for an open plea of guilty to a lesser-included offense and the trial judge imposes an illegal sentence?"
Thomas was charged with third-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity, with state-jail felony theft as the underlying offense. The State sought a punishment enhancement based on two prior convictions, a felony and a state-jail felony. In exchange for Thomas' guilty plea, the State agreed to reduce the charge to the lesser-included theft, enhanced by the two priors, which the parties believed subjected him to second-degree felony punishment. Thomas pled guilty and true, and the trial court assessed his punishment at 20 years.
The court of appeals held that the state-jail theft offense could not be properly enhanced with a felony and a state-jail felony, so the resulting sentence was illegal. As a result, it affirmed the theft conviction, reversed on punishment, and remanded for re-sentencing.
The State contends the proper remedy for an illegal sentence that results from a plea bargain or charge bargain is to set aside the entire plea and return the parties to their original positions. It argues that setting aside only the punishment in this case gives Thomas the windfall of an unenhanced state-jail felony and forecloses prosecution for the original charge, a third degree felony with an enhanced punishment.