144 P.3d 23 (Idaho 2006), 31611, State v. Knighton

Docket Nº:31611.
Citation:144 P.3d 23, 143 Idaho 318
Opinion Judge:SCHROEDER, Chief Justice.
Party Name:STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Bruce Allen KNIGHTON, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Molly J. Huskey, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Molly J. Huskey argued. Honorable Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Rebekah A. Cud
Judge Panel:Name SCHROEDER, Chief Justice
Case Date:May 04, 2006
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho

Page 23

144 P.3d 23 (Idaho 2006)

143 Idaho 318

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

Bruce Allen KNIGHTON, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 31611.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

May 4, 2006

Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Honorable Richard T. St. Clair, District Judge.

Molly J. Huskey, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Molly J. Huskey argued.

Honorable Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Rebekah A. Cudé argued.

Page 24

[143 Idaho 319] SCHROEDER, Chief Justice.

Bruce Allen Knighton (Knighton) appeals from the district court's decision regarding his sentencing and also argues that the State violated the terms of the plea agreement.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Knighton was charged with three counts of lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen, a violation of I.C. § 18-1508. He entered into a written plea agreement with the State and pled guilty to one count of lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen. In return the State dismissed two counts of lewd conduct, agreed not to pursue other charges and agreed to recommend a sentence consistent with the suggestion of the presentence investigator.

The presentence investigator recommended Knighton be placed on probation. The plea agreement provides, "If the recommendation is for probation, the State is free to recommend a specific suspended sentence." At the sentence hearing, consistent with the plea agreement, the State recommended that Knighton be placed on probation with an underlying unified sentence of thirty years with five years fixed. The district court imposed a unified sentence of twenty-five years with three years fixed.

Knighton filed a motion to reduce his sentence pursuant to I.C.R. 35. The State opposed the motion. The district court denied the motion. On appeal Knighton argues that the State breached the plea agreement by opposing his Rule 35 motion; the district court abused its discretion when it imposed a unified sentence of twenty-five years with three years fixed; and, the district court abused its discretion when it denied his Rule 35 motion seeking leniency. Following oral argument the case was continued to obtain transcripts of the change of plea hearing and the hearing on the Rule 35 motion.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court's standard of review of a sentence is well established. So long as the sentence is within the statutory limits, the appellant must show that the trial court, when imposing the sentence, clearly abused its discretion. Where reasonable minds could differ whether a sentence is excessive, this Court will not disturb the decision of the sentencing court.

State v. Stover, 140 Idaho 927, 933, 104 P.3d 969, 975 (2005). A sentencing court's grant or denial of a Rule 35 motion is also subject to the discretionary standard of review. State v. Grube, 126 Idaho 377, 388, 883 P.2d 1069, 1080 (1994).

III.

THE STATE DID NOT BREACH THE PLEA AGREEMENT

Knighton argues the State breached the plea agreement when it opposed his Rule 35 motion. No such objection was made in the district court. Regardless, the record is clear that Knighton's position is without merit.

There is no express term prohibiting the State from opposing the Rule 35 motion, but Knighton asserts there is an implied term to that effect. The plea agreement expressly states that "this constitutes the full agreement between the State and the Defendant." The State complied with the agreement at sentencing. There is no implied agreement concerning the Rule 35...

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