People v. Eason, 82718

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtBOYLE; The issue presented is whether the sentence provision of the controlled substance act; RILEY; CAVANAGH; ARCHER; LEVIN
Citation435 Mich. 228,458 N.W.2d 17
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan Plaintiff-Appellant. v. Charles Edward EASON, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 82718,82718
Decision Date05 July 1990

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Louis J. Caruso, Sol. Gen., John D. O'Hair, Pros. Atty., County of Wayne, Timothy A. Baughman, Chief of the Criminal Div., Research, Training and Appeals, Detroit, for the people.

Richard A. Monash, Monash, Monash & Goldberg, P.C., Detroit, for defendant-appellee.

BOYLE, Justice.

We granted leave to appeal to determine whether the procedural safeguards 1 surrounding a formal trial must be afforded a defendant subjected to an enhanced sentence pursuant to the second-offender provisions of the controlled substance act, M.C.L. Sec. 333.7413; M.S.A. Sec. 14.15(7413). We hold that a defendant charged under a statute which provides for imposition of an enhanced sentence on an individual previously convicted of an offense under the same statute is not entitled to notice within fourteen days of arraignment of the prosecutor's intent to seek sentence enhancement or to a separate proceeding on the question whether he has previously been convicted of a narcotics offense.


The questions presented in this case are: 1) did the Legislature intend to require a supplementary information and a separate fact-finding proceeding under this statute, and, 2) if not, does the legislative scheme offend the constitution?

Despite recent modification of sentence enhancement provisions, the Legislature has not granted defendants who are subsequent offenders under the same statute a right to early notice of sentence enhancement. Nor has it provided for a separate proceeding to determine the question of a defendant's prior conviction of a drug offense. The sentence enhancement provision is a legislative authorization for judges to tailor punishment to the criminal on the basis of an objective factor, i.e., a prior conviction under the same statute.

The Legislature has long provided that where a prosecutor intends to proceed under the habitual offender act, a separate charge must be filed, the defendant is entitled to a full jury trial, and the defendant's prior convictions 2 must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The habitual offender statutes are considered alternate sentencing provisions rather than penalty-enhancement provisions. 3

In creating a sentence enhancement provision in the controlled substance act, the Legislature took a factor, the defendant's prior criminal convictions, a traditional consideration in determining a defendant's sentence, and authorized a weight to be given that factor, i.e., not more than twice the term authorized. 4 The statute is directed to facts which relate to the criminal, not to the crime, and nothing in the act suggests a proceeding other than that comporting with the fundamental due process requirement that a sentence must be based on accurate information and a defendant have a reasonable opportunity at sentencing to challenge such information.

By contrast, in situations in which the state creates a statutory scheme and elements of an offense, due process requires both notice of the charge and proof by the prosecutor of each element beyond a reasonable doubt. In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970). Conversely, a state may define the elements of an offense, and due process does not require the state to satisfy the reasonable-doubt standard as to facts not included in the statutory definition of an offense, so long as the definition does not offend a deeply rooted principle of justice. Patterson v. New York, 432 U.S. 197, 97 S.Ct. 2319, 53 L.Ed.2d 281 (1977). Thus, due process does not require the state to proceed by notice of a separate charge, the right to trial by jury, and proof beyond a reasonable doubt wherever sentence enhancement is authorized.

Due process does not require the prosecutor to charge the prior drug conviction in the information in order for the defendant's sentence to be enhanced on the basis of the prior conviction because the prior offense is not an element of a separate charge. 5 Nor is the defendant entitled to a trial-type procedure regarding the use of the defendant's prior drug convictions for sentencing purposes. 6

In the instant case, the court informed the defendant prior to sentencing of the increased penalty for a second offense, the defendant had the opportunity at sentencing to contest the accuracy of the information included in the presentence report, and the accuracy of the information was admitted. 7 Where the statute does not contemplate a separate trial-type proceeding but, rather, provides for sentence enhancement, due process requires a reasonable opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the information relied on in passing sentence. 8 Because the defendant did not challenge the fact that he was a second offender, the Court of Appeals erred in vacating his sentence and remanding the case for resentencing. Accordingly, the decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the sentence imposed by the trial judge is reinstated.


On February 25, 1985, law enforcement personnel raided the defendant's house and seized a small amount of cocaine and more than $30,000 in cash. The defendant was charged with possession with intent to deliver less than fifty grams of cocaine. M.C.L. Sec. 333.7401(1) and (2)(a)(iv); M.S.A. Sec. 14.15(7401)(1) and (2)(a)(iv). The maximum sentence for this offense is twenty years in prison.

On July 12, 1985, the defendant was arraigned in Detroit Recorder's Court, and on September 12, 1985, the prosecutor filed a written notice 9 of his intent to seek an enhanced (doubled) sentence pursuant to M.C.L. Sec. 333.7413(2); M.S.A. Sec. 14.15(7413)(2).

The defendant was convicted by a jury of possession with intent to deliver less than fifty grams of cocaine, and on January 31, 1986, was sentenced to a maximum of forty years in prison. 10 Although advised at sentencing that the court was relying on the defendant's prior conviction for possession of heroin, neither the defendant nor counsel contested the accuracy of the prior conviction, and counsel confirmed that the presentence report was accurate.

"In our view the quoted language from [People v ] Urynowicz [412 Mich 137; 312 NW2d 625 (1981) ] makes clear that a subsequent drug offender's sentence may not be enhanced unless the prior drug offense is charged in either the information or a supplemental information and the prosecutor proves that the defendant is a recidivist drug offender." (Emphasis in original.)

The sentencing judge believed the Court of Appeals erred in Stout, but also that, under Stout, the notice filed was sufficient because the defendant received the notice and had not contested his conviction on the underlying charge. The motion was denied.

In an unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant's conviction but remanded the case for sentencing. 11 The Court of Appeals agreed with the defendant that the prosecution must charge the defendant as an habitual offender before his sentence could be enhanced under M.C.L. Secs. 333.7413, 769.10(1)(c), 769.13; M.S.A. Secs. 14.15(7413), 28.1082(1)(c), 28.1085.

Relying on our decisions regarding proceedings under the habitual criminal act, the Court held that the prosecutor must file a supplemental information not more than fourteen days after a defendant is arraigned in circuit court unless the prosecutor is unaware of any prior felony record until after conviction or the delay in filing the information is due to the need to verify out-of-state felony convictions based on the record of a defendant's prior arrests. People v. Shelton, 412 Mich. 565, 315 N.W.2d 537 (1982), reh. den. 413 Mich. 1108 (1982). As these exceptions were not applicable, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing 12 solely on defendant's charge of possession with intent to deliver cocaine.

The prosecution contends that earlier decisions of this Court imposed procedural requirements in the sentence enhancement context that the Legislature never intended. 13 See People v. Urynowicz, supra, People v. Wright, 405 Mich. 832, 275 N.W.2d 1 (1979), and People v. Lester, 417 Mich. 927, 330 N.W.2d 854 (1983). The prosecutor further submits that the recent ruling of the United States Supreme Court in McMillan v. Pennsylvania, 477 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 2411, 91 L.Ed.2d 67 (1986), provides a justification for reconsideration regarding the issue what procedures are required under due process when the court enhances a defendant's sentence pursuant to M.C.L. Sec. 333.7413(2); M.S.A. Sec. 14.15(7413)(2).

The defendant claims that the prior drug offense must be charged in either the information or a supplemental information, and that the prosecutor must prove that the defendant is a recidivist drug offender.


The issue presented is whether the sentence provision of the controlled substance act, authorizing an enhanced penalty for a defendant previously convicted of a like offense, offends due process by failing to provide prior notice of intent to enhance or a separate adversarial proceeding to establish proof of the prior conviction. People v. Stout, supra.

It is well settled that in a criminal trial, the defendant's conviction must rest on evidence which proves "beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged" 14 and includes the right to a trial by jury, 15 a public trial, counsel, confrontation of adverse witnesses, and a fair and speedy trial. The most fundamental of these safeguards in a criminal proceeding is the right to a trial by jury. 16 See Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 158, n. 30, 88 S.Ct. 1444, 1452, n. 30, 20 L.Ed.2d 491 (1968); Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66, 72, 90 S.Ct. 1886, 1890, 26 L.Ed.2d 437 (1970).

By contrast, the due process right at a...

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