December 28, 2014

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant’s Daughter Rightly Named as Protected Person Under Mandatory Protection Order Despite Dismissal of Charge

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Sterns on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Mandatory Protection Order—Victim—Plea Agreement—Sentencing Range.

Defendant appealed from the trial court’s mandatory protection order and sentence. The order and sentence were affirmed.

Defendant was charged with three counts of solicitation to commit second-degree murder for contracting to have his daughter, his ex-wife, and her current husband killed. Before trial, defendant and the prosecution reached a plea agreement in which defendant agreed to plead guilty to an added count of second-degree attempted murder, with his ex-wife and her husband as the only named victims, as well as a crime of violence sentence enhancer, in exchange for dismissal of all other charges. At the plea hearing, the trial court accepted defendant’s plea and entered a mandatory protection order, naming defendant’s ex-wife, her husband, and defendant’s daughter as protected persons.

On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court lacked statutory authority to name his daughter as a protected person in the mandatory protection order. Adding or dropping a single charge within a multi-charge case does not dispose of the case. Thus, when the trial court dismissed the charge involving defendant’s daughter, it did not thereby dispose of the action against defendant. The action continued pursuant to the plea agreement. Accordingly, the trial court’s mandatory protection order properly included defendant’s daughter.

Defendant also contended that the trial court abused its discretion by sentencing him to a twenty-four-year term of imprisonment. Because this sentence falls within the range agreed to under defendant’s plea agreement, defendant is not entitled to appellate review of this issue.

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