STATE v. RONALD BROWN, SC 18926

Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk

 

Criminal; Whether General Statutes 54-125e Limitation on Period of Special Parole Applies to Aggregate Sentence Arising from Conviction of Multiple Offenses; Whether, Where Defendant Pleaded Guilty under a Plea Bargain, Appropriate Remedy for Illegal Sentence is Resentencing or Vacating of Guilty Pleas. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant pleaded guilty in two separate cases to possession of narcotics with the intent to sell and sale of narcotics. In the possession case, the trial court sentenced him to four years of incarceration, followed by six years of special parole. In the sale case, he was sentenced to five years of incarceration and ten years of special parole. The sentences were to run consecutively. The defendant later filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that the court was not authorized under General Statutes 54-125e (c) to sentence him to a total term of special parole that exceeded ten years. Section 54-125e (c) provides that, with some exceptions not applicable here, a period of special parole shall not exceed ten years. The court denied the motion, stating that the defendant had bargained for the sentence and that the term of special parole was proper because it resulted from consecutive sentences imposed under separate docket numbers. The defendant appealed to the Appellate Court (133 Conn. App. 140), which reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded the matter for resentencing. The Appellate Court rejected the state's argument that the ten year limitation on a period of special parole applies to the sentence imposed for each offense or conviction, not to an aggregate sentence for multiple convictions. It stated that it was clear from the language of 54-125e (a) that, where a person has been sentenced to multiple terms of incarceration and special parole for multiple offenses, a single period of special parole begins after the expiration of the maximum terms of incarceration. It thus determined that, absent any of the statutorily enumerated exceptions, the "period of special parole" contemplated by 54-125e (c) cannot exceed ten years. The Appellate Court remanded the case for resentencing, rejecting the state's claims that a change in the period of special parole would wrongly "unravel" the entire plea agreement and that the proper remedy was to vacate the defendant's pleas in their entirety. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly ruled that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the defendant's motion, and, if so, whether it properly found that the appropriate remedy was to remand the case for resentencing rather than to vacate the defendant's guilty pleas.