State v. Lane
Case # S062045
Full Text of Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S062045.pdf
Defendant Lane pleaded no contest to four counts of Encouraging Child Sex Abuse in the First Degree, ORS 163.684. Lane stipulated that each count involved a different victim. The trial court sentenced him to 60 months of probation on each count. Because the court did not specify that the sentences were consecutive, they were concurrent pursuant to ORS 137.123(1) (“A sentence shall be deemed to be a concurrent term unless the judgment expressly provides for consecutive sentences.”). Lane’s probation conditions required him to refrain from drinking alcohol.
Several years later, while still on probation, Lane admitted to violating his probation condition by drinking alcohol. Consequently, the State argued that the trial court should revoke probation and impose consecutive sentences of incarceration on each of the four counts pursuant to Article I, section 44(1)(b). That statute provides that “[n]o law shall limit a court’s authority to sentence a criminal defendant consecutively for crimes against different victims.” Lane countered that, under the applicable provision of the sentencing guidelines, any terms of incarceration imposed as a result of a single probation violation must be served concurrently. The trial court determined that Article I, section 44(1)(b) authorized it to give consecutive sentences based on the fact that there were four separate victims. On appeal, Lane argued that Article I, Section 44(1)(b) pertains to “sentences” and not “sanctions” for probation violations. The Court of Appeals agreed with Lane, and the State sought review of that decision.
The Oregon Supreme Court considers whether Article I, Section 44(1)(b) applies to sanctions for probation violations. After analyzing the dictionary definition of “sentence,” statutory context, historical context, and legislative intent, the Supreme Court concludes that Article I, Section 44(1)(b) applies to probation violation sanctions. The Court especially notes that the text of the constitutional provision indicates that a “sentence” is “[a] term of imprisonment imposed by a judge in open court.” It then explains that that is precisely what occurs when a trial court imposes a term of imprisonment as a probation revocation sanction. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals’ decision is reversed, and the circuit court judgment is affirmed.