June 23, 2011

Colorado Court of Appeals criminal law s 6-23-11 People v. Montoya

People v. Montoya             Illegal Sentence / Probation / Work-Release
Facts:  Mr. Montoya pled to driving after revocation prohibited, a class six felony. The trial court sentenced Mr. Montoya to 10 months in the work release program to be followed by a period of probation. However, because Mr. Montoya physically could not work, instead of working at a job in work-release, the trial court ordered Mr. Montoya do 10,000 hours of useful public service at the jail while in the work-release program.
Issue: Whether the trial court illegally sentenced Mr. Montoya to a period longer than 90 days jail as a condition of probation?
Held: Yes.
Reasoning: First, under the clear reading of the work-release statute, the Court of Appeals found that working at the jail and not being released to an outside job does not qualify as “work-release” no matter how generous one were to read the statute. C.R.S.  §18-1.3-207. Next, the CofA found that under the probation statute, the Court had no authority to sentence Mr. Montoya to more than 90 days jail and probation. C.R.S. §18-1.3-202. Thus, the CofA held the trial court illegally sentenced Mr. Montoya, and remanded the case. Incidentally, the trial court judge, a former public defender, conformed with the rule that former public defenders appointed to the bench unnecessarily hammer folks at sentencing.

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