The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Bassford on Thursday, February 27, 2014.
Sentence Illegal—Crim.P. 35(a)—Removal of Probation Requirement—Resentencing.
Defendant was charged in Denver District Court (case No. 02CR5403) with one count of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA), and with multiple counts of securities fraud and felony theft. He later was charged in Denver District Court (case No. 03CR4422) with one count each of felony theft, defrauding a secured creditor, and forgery. The cases were consolidated for trial, and a jury found defendant guilty of all counts ultimately tried.
The court sentenced defendant to twelve years in Department of Corrections (DOC) custody and then to twelve years of probation. On appeal, the forgery conviction was vacated, but the judgment and sentence were affirmed as to all other counts. Thereafter, defendant filed a Crim.P. 35(a) motion, claiming that the probation portion of his sentence was illegal. The trial court vacated the original sentence and then resentenced defendant to twenty-two years in DOC custody, plus mandatory parole; suspended the entire DOC sentence (giving defendant credit for a little more than twelve years of time served); and imposed twelve years of probation with the economic crime unit.
On appeal, defendant contended that his original sentence was illegal because the court ordered him to complete probation after his release from DOC custody, and that the district court erred by resentencing him rather than simply removing the probation requirement. Defendant’s original sentence was illegal, and the court was without statutory authority to suspend ten years of the eighteen-year DOC sentence on the condition that defendant complete economic crime probation after the initial eight years in the DOC. Although Crim.P. 35(b) authorizes a district court to reduce a sentence, the district court erred in relying on Crim.P. 35(b) to modify defendant’s sentence, because the court did not reduce his sentence. However, because defendant’s original sentence was illegal in its entirety, the appropriate remedy was to remand the case to the trial court for resentencing.
Summary and full case available here.