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People v. Valadez

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

April 21, 2016

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Edward Valadez, Defendant-Appellant

          Logan County District Court No. 08CR34. Honorable Michael K. Singer, Judge.

         Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Carmen Moraleda, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

         Edward Valadez, Pro se.

         Terry and Navarro, JJ., concur.

          OPINION

         FREYRE, J.

          [¶1] This appeal presents an issue of first impression: If a Colorado prison inmate commits a misdemeanor offense in prison, and the district court imposes a consecutive county jail sentence on the misdemeanor, which sentence is served first, the jail sentence or the remainder of the prison sentence? Applying section 18-1.3-501(1)(c), C.R.S. 2015, we hold that the prisoner must be remanded to county jail to serve the jail sentence first and then be transferred back to the Department of Corrections (DOC) to serve the remainder of the prison sentence. Therefore, we reverse the district court's order in this case ruling that defendant, Edward Valadez, must serve the remainder of his prison sentence before his jail sentence, and we remand for further proceedings.

         I. Background

          [¶2] While serving a prison sentence in the custody of the DOC, Mr. Valadez committed an assault. He pleaded guilty to third degree assault, a class 1 misdemeanor. In 2008, the district court sentenced him to fifteen months in the county jail. It ordered the jail sentence to be served consecutively to the prison sentence Mr. Valadez was already serving.

          [¶3] In 2014, Mr. Valadez filed the Crim. P. 35(a) motion at issue. According to the motion, after the 2008 sentencing hearing, he was returned to the DOC to serve the remainder of his thirty-five-year prison sentence before beginning to serve his fifteen-month jail sentence. This pending county jail sentence created a detainer on Mr. Valadez's prison sentence that affected his parole eligibility date and his eligibility for transitional placements in the community. He claimed that, under section 18-1.3-501(1)(c), he should have been allowed to serve his jail sentence before serving the remainder of his prison sentence. He asked the district court to amend the mittimus to reflect time served on the jail sentence so that the detainer would be removed from his prison sentence.

          [¶4] Section 18-1.3-501(1)(c), a provision within the statute governing sentencing for misdemeanor offenses, states:

A term of imprisonment in a county jail for a conviction of a misdemeanor, petty, or traffic misdemeanor offense shall not be ordered to be served consecutively to a sentence to be served in a state correctional facility; except that if, at the time of sentencing, the court determines, after consideration of all the relevant facts and circumstances, that a concurrent sentence is not warranted, the court may order that the misdemeanor sentence be served prior to the sentence to be served in the state correctional facility and prior to the time the defendant is transported to the state correctional facility to serve all or the remainder of the defendant's state correctional facility sentence.

          [¶5] The district court denied Mr. Valadez's motion, concluding that section 18-1.3-501(1)(c) does not apply where a defendant has already begun serving his prison sentence at the time he is sentenced for the misdemeanor. The court reasoned:

Section 18-1.3-501(1)(c) . . . applies to felony sentences imposed at the same time as misdemeanor sentences, or imposed in such a way as to interrupt a misdemeanor sentence. . . . [T]he plain language of the statute applies to misdemeanor sentences being imposed consecutively to felony DOC sentences " to be served," not sentences already being served.

         II. Analysis

         A. Initial Matters

          [¶6] We consider two issues before addressing the merits. First, there is a question whether Mr. Valadez's Crim. P. 35(a) claim challenges an actual aspect of the district court's original sentence. The sentencing hearing transcript is not part of the record on appeal, so the record does not explicitly show whether the district court required Mr. Valadez to serve his prison sentence before his jail sentence. The mittimus only reflects the consecutive nature of the sentences.

          [¶7] However, the People do not challenge this issue and agree in their answer brief that this issue was properly brought under Crim. P. 35(a). Accordingly, we deem Mr. Valadez's Crim. P. ...


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