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People v. Trujillo

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Fifth Division

May 16, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Mario Trujillo, Defendant-Appellant.

          Pueblo County District Court No. 14CR2131 Honorable Larry C. Schwartz, Judge

          Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General, Brock J. Swanson, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

          Megan A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, Alex San Filippo-Rosser, Deputy State Public Defender, Pueblo, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          BERNARD CHIEF JUDGE

         ¶ 1 This appeal calls on us to decide whether an express exception to a general statutory rule applies to an arguably related circumstance that is not mentioned in the exception.

         ¶ 2 The general rule appears in section 18-6-801(1)(a), C.R.S. 2018. This subsection (1)(a), which addresses crimes that include acts of domestic violence, requires a court to order a defendant who has committed such a crime to "complete a treatment program and a treatment evaluation that conform with the standards adopted by the domestic violence offender management board."

         ¶ 3 The exception appears in section 18-6-801(2). This subsection (2) states that the requirements of subsection (1) "shall not apply to persons sentenced to the department of corrections." In other words, a court that has sentenced a defendant to prison for a domestic violence crime cannot order him to complete a treatment program as described in subsection (1).

         ¶ 4 The question we must answer in this appeal is: Does the exception in subsection (2) prevent a court from ordering a defendant to complete a treatment program if the court has sentenced the defendant to jail? We answer that question "no." We conclude, because of the reasons that we explain below, that subsection (1)(a) applies to all sentences except for prison sentences.

         ¶ 5 In this case, the trial court imposed a two-year jail sentence on defendant, Mario Trujillo, for a misdemeanor involving domestic violence. The court also ordered him to complete a certified domestic violence treatment program. He appeals. We affirm.

         I. Background

         ¶ 6 The prosecution originally charged defendant with third degree assault, menacing, harassment, being a domestic violence habitual offender, and obstruction of telephone service. It also alleged that the facts of the case met the definition of domestic violence in section 18-6-800.3, C.R.S. 2018.

         ¶ 7 Defendant agreed to plead guilty to third degree assault. Under the plea agreement, he stipulated that the crime involved an act of domestic violence, that the court would sentence him to two years in jail, and that he would complete "a court certified domestic violence treatment and/or education program."

         ¶ 8 The trial court accepted defendant's plea. It then sentenced him to two years in jail, which was the maximum possible jail sentence; it ordered him to complete a domestic violence treatment program; and it set a review hearing for a year later to determine whether he had complied with the treatment order.

         ¶ 9 Defendant then filed a Crim. P. 35(a) motion, which alleged that the treatment order was illegal and asked the trial court to vacate it. The court held a hearing on the motion. Relying, in part, on section 18-6-801(1)(a), the court decided that it had the authority to enter the treatment order because the order was "in addition to," not part of, defendant's sentence.

         ¶ 10 The court then offered to set a review hearing. Defendant objected, arguing that the court did not have the authority to set further review hearings because they would be "akin to some sort of probationary sentence." He added that the prosecution could "initiate proceedings" for contempt, but the court did not have "the authority to order [him] to appear . . . when no contempt proceeding [was] ongoing." The court agreed, and it set an internal review as a presumptive deadline for defendant to file some proof of his enrollment in a treatment program. The court then noted that it would be, at that point, "up to the [prosecution] to take any action" if he had not completed the program.

         II. Subsection (1)(a)'s Plain Language Requires the Trial Court to Order Domestic Violence Treatment

         ¶ 11 Defendant contends that the legislature did not intend for the general rule in subsection (1)(a) to ...


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