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People ex rel. J.S.R.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Fifth Division

August 28, 2014

People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of J.S.R., Juvenile-Appellant.

Announced July 31, 2014

Bent County District Court No. 12JD5 Honorable Michael A. Schiferl, Judge

John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Joseph G. Michaels, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee

Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Gail L. Morrison, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Juvenile-Appellant

Jones and Ney [*] , JJ, concur



¶1 The sentencing court sentenced defendant, J.S.R., to a one-year term of commitment in the custody of the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC), plus mandatory parole. It also ordered that, upon release from the DYC, J.S.R. was to serve a one-year term of probation. J.S.R. moved to correct an illegal sentence, which the district court denied. We conclude that the district court misinterpreted section 19-2-907(1), C.R.S. 2013, as allowing the combination of a one-year term of commitment to the custody of the DYC followed by a one-year term of probation for J.S.R.'s single adjudication. And, because the court's combination of probation and commitment exceeded the 45-day maximum commitment allowed under section 19-2-925(1)(a), C.R.S. 2013, we reverse the order, vacate the sentence, and remand the case with directions.

I. Background

¶2 J.S.R. had previously been adjudicated a juvenile delinquent in two separate cases and had two new delinquency cases pending against him. He entered into a plea agreement wherein he pleaded guilty to one count of felony menacing and one count of possession of a handgun by a juvenile in one of the cases in exchange for dismissal of the remaining two counts and the second pending case. The agreement left sentencing to the court's discretion.

¶3 After accepting J.S.R.'s pleas, the court adjudicated J.S.R., who was then seventeen years old, a juvenile delinquent as a mandatory sentence offender and sentenced him to the DYC for a determinate one-year mandatory minimum term of commitment, and a mandatory parole period. The court also ordered that J.S.R. complete one year of probation immediately following his release from the DYC and advised him that, since he would be eighteen years old upon his release from the DYC, he would be subject to a county jail sentence if he did not comply with probation.

¶4 J.S.R. successfully completed his term of commitment and began serving his probationary term in February 2013. The parole board also imposed a period of parole supervision as required by statute.[1]

¶5 In June and July 2013, the probation department filed petitions to modify or revoke J.S.R.'s probation, which each resulted in his arrest. Soon thereafter, J.S.R. filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, alleging that the probationary term was illegal. After a hearing, the court denied J.S.R.'s motion. When this appeal was filed, J.S.R. had posted bond awaiting resolution of the pending probation revocation petitions and was under parole supervision.

II. Discussion

¶6 J.S.R. contends that the sentencing court imposed an illegal sentence by ordering him to serve a one-year commitment in the DYC's custody followed by one year of probation. He argues numerous bases in support of that contention. We agree that the sentencing court erred in interpreting its sentencing authority pursuant to sections 19-2-907 and 19-2-908, C.R.S. 2013, and that the sentence imposed was illegal.

A. Mootness

¶7 Initially, we reject the People's contention that this issue is moot. "A case is moot when a judgment, if rendered, would have no practical legal effect on an existing controversy." Warren v. People, 192 P.3d 477, 478 (Colo.App. 2008).

¶8 J.S.R. is currently out on bail for alleged probation violations. Thus, whether or not a term of probation was authorized will have a direct effect on him, the pending petitions to revoke his probation, and his sentence, if any, for the alleged probation violations.

B. Legality of the Sentence

¶9 The district court denied J.S.R.'s motion to correct an illegal sentence, finding that section 19-2-907 allows for a combination of sentencing options and, therefore, the DYC commitment and sequential probation sentence was statutorily authorized.

¶10 Having reviewed the relevant statutes, and considering the legislative intent behind juvenile sentencing and the Children's Code as a whole, we conclude that the district court misinterpreted the scope of the sentencing court's authority pursuant to section 19-2-907(1) to combine sentencing options. Accordingly, the court erred by denying J.S.R.'s motion to correct an illegal sentence.

¶11 We reach this conclusion by first considering the relationship between the general sentencing statute, section 19-2-907; and the mandatory sentence offender sentencing provision, section 19-2-908(1)(a). We then interpret a court's authority to impose a combination of sentencing options under section 19-2-907. We conclude that sections 19-2-907 and 19-2-908(1)(a) can be harmonized and applied together; however, here, the district court erred in the combination that it chose, thereby imposing an illegal sentence.

¶12 "An illegal sentence is one that is not authorized by law, meaning that it is inconsistent with the sentencing scheme established by the legislature." People v. Jenkins, 2013 COA 76, ¶ 11; see Delgado v. People, 105 P.3d 634, 636 (Colo. 2005). Such claims may be raised at any time. Crim. P. 35(a); Jenkins, ¶ 11; People v. White, 179 P.3d 58, 61 (Colo.App. 2007). We review the legality of a sentence de novo. See People v. Bassford, 2014 COA 15, ¶ 20; Jenkins, ¶ 11.

¶13 We also review issues involving statutory interpretation de novo. A.S. v. People, 2013 CO 63, ¶ 10; Bostelman v. People, 162 P.3d 686, 689 (Colo. 2007). In doing so, our primary goal is to ascertain and give effect to the legislature's intent, "reading applicable statutory provisions as a whole in order to accord consistent, harmonious, and sensible effect to all their parts." A.S., ¶ 10. "When interpreting a comprehensive legislative scheme, we construe each provision to further the overarching legislative intent. . . . When a statute is part of a complex of sentencing prescriptions, the entire scheme should be construed to give consistent, harmonious, and sensible effect to all of its parts." Id. at ¶ 11.

1. Interpretation of the Relationship between Sections 19-2-907 and 19-2-908

ΒΆ14 Section 19-2-907 lists the various sentencing options that a court may impose and, as ...

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