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September 10, 2004

More big Blakely news from Colorado

As noted here, the Colorado Supreme Court earlier this week announced its intention to examine whether Colorado's sentencing scheme can survive Blakely. As that court gears up for this issue, a Colorado intermediate appellate court in People v. Solis-Martinez, 2004 WL 2002525 (Colo. App. Sept. 09, 2004), has now officially identified Blakely problems in the operation of Colorado's sentencing provisions.

The court in Solis-Martinez, after providing a brief account of Colorado's sentencing statutes, explains how the case facts raise a Blakely problem and how waiver claims cannot remedy that problem:

Here, in imposing the sixteen-year sentence [following the defendant's guilty plea to criminally negligent child abuse], the trial court relied on its findings that the child was in extreme pain for a long time, that defendant waited so long to take the child to the doctor, that she punished the child because of her circumstances, and that she had continually lied about the events leading to the child's injuries. The court further recorded its findings supporting the aggravated range sentence in a written supplement to its sentencing order that reflected in more detail the information that appeared in the presentence investigation report. However, under Apprendi and Blakely, a sentence beyond the relevant statutory maximum may be imposed only if a jury has determined the aggravating factors or the defendant has admitted them.

In so concluding, we disagree with the People's contention that defendant waived the right to a jury determination of the aggravating factors by pleading guilty to the charged offense. No aggravating factors were charged in the information, and defendant did not stipulate to any. She was not advised that she had a right to have a jury determine any aggravating factors. Therefore, her guilty plea cannot be interpreted as a waiver of her right to have a jury determine factors exposing her to greater punishment than otherwise authorized by the sentencing statute.

September 10, 2004 at 01:16 AM | Permalink

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