People v. Whitley, No. 97CA1096.

Docket NºNo. 97CA1096.
Citation998 P.2d 31
Case DateJune 10, 1999
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

998 P.2d 31

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Henry L. WHITLEY, Defendant-Appellant

No. 97CA1096.

Colorado Court of Appeals, Div. III.

June 10, 1999.

As Modified on Denial of Rehearing September 23, 1999.1

Certiorari Granted May 1, 2000.


998 P.2d 33
Gale A. Norton, Attorney General, Martha Phillips Allbright, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Richard A. Westfall, Solicitor General, Denver, Colorado (On the Briefs); Ken Salazar, Attorney General, Barbara McDonnell, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Michael E. McClachlan, Solicitor General, Robert M. Russel, First Assistant Attorney General, Heidi L. Beeson, Special Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

David F. Vela, Colorado State Public Defender, Anne Stockham, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.

Opinion by Judge MARQUEZ.

Defendant, Henry L. Whitley, appeals from the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of one count of possession of a schedule II controlled substance (cocaine) with intent to distribute and one count of distribution or sale of a schedule II controlled substance. We affirm.

The evidence at trial established that defendant sold cocaine to an undercover police officer. Defendant was sentenced as a prior offender under § 18-18-405(2)(a)(II), C.R.S. 1998.

I.

Defendant first argues that there was insufficient evidence presented to sustain the jury's verdict because, under § 18-18-405(2)(a)(II), the question whether he had previously been convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell was an issue which had to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and decided by the jury. We disagree and conclude that § 18-18-405(2)(a)(II) is a sentence enhancement provision which was properly determined by the trial court.

Section 18-18-405(1)(a), C.R.S.1998, provides that it is unlawful for any person knowingly to distribute, or possess with the intent to distribute, any controlled substance. Subject to certain exceptions not applicable here, § 18-18-405(2)(a)(I), C.R.S.1998, provides that the offense is a class four felony. However, § 18-18-405(2)(a)(II) provides that the offense is a class two felony if the violation is committed subsequent to a prior conviction for a violation of § 18-18-405(1)(a).

This statutory provision establishes a sentencing enhancer, and not a substantive offense, because: (1) the defendant may be convicted of the underlying offense without any proof regarding the sentencing enhancer; and (2) the sentencing enhancement provision increases the potential punishment. Vega v. People, 893 P.2d 107 (Colo.1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 889, 116 S.Ct. 233, 133 L.Ed.2d 161 (1995).

There are three types of sentence enhancing provisions in Colorado.

The first includes those which increase the level of punishment based on the existence of statutorily specified factual circumstances that are connected to the commission of the crime itself. Although such sentence enhancement factors are not elements of the offense, they nevertheless must be determined by a jury and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. See People v. Leske, 957 P.2d 1030 (Colo.1998) (in prosecution for child sexual abuse by one in a position of trust, proof that the victim was less than fifteen years of age is a sentence enhancement provision which raises the felony classification); Armintrout v. People, 864 P.2d 576 (Colo.1993) (where statute raised second degree burglary from a class four felony to a class three felony if burglary was of a "dwelling," provision was sentence enhancer requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt); People v. Bowring, 902 P.2d 911 (Colo.App.1995) (proof that child sexual assault was committed as part of a "pattern of abuse" is a sentence enhancement provision that elevates the felony classification and requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt); § 16-11-309(5), C.R.S.1998 (by its terms, statute requires a separate finding by the jury of whether defendant used or possessed and threatened to use a deadly weapon); see also Vega v. People, supra (discussing the

998 P.2d 34
due process limitations on the ability of states to reclassify factual components of existing crimes as sentence enhancers in order to evade the constitutionally-mandated burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt applicable to elements of a substantive offense)

The second type of sentence enhancing provision is that which requires that a convicted defendant's punishment be increased based on prior convictions and that those prior convictions, pursuant to statute, be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. See § 16-13-103(4)(b), C.R.S.1998 (if a defendant charged as an habitual criminal denies prior convictions, then the prosecution must prove the existence of the convictions beyond a reasonable doubt in a separate proceeding after defendant is convicted of the new underlying offense); § 18-4-202.1(5) (persons charged as habitual burglars shall be tried in accordance with procedures applicable to habitual criminal prosecutions).

The third type of sentence enhancement provision is that which increases the punishment based on a defendant's criminal history but which does not have a statutory burden of proof or hearing procedure applicable to the determination of the prior criminal conduct. See People v. Lacey, 723 P.2d 111 (Colo.1986) (provision providing for aggravated range sentencing if the defendant was on probation at the time offense was committed is a sentence enhancer that need only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence); People v. Henderson, 729 P.2d 1028 (Colo.App.1986) (defendant was subject to aggravated range sentencing because the prosecution met its burden, at post-trial sentencing hearing, of proving that defendant was on parole at the time he committed offense).

For this third type of enhancement provision, due process is satisfied so long as the defendant receives reasonable notice of the potential for an increased sentence and the prosecution meets its burden of proving the prior criminal conduct by a preponderance of the evidence. People v. Lacey, supra; see Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224, 118 S.Ct. 1219, 140 L.Ed.2d 350 (1998) (typically, recidivism provisions have been classified as sentence enhancers, at least where the underlying conduct at issue, in the absence of the recidivism, is independently unlawful).

The provision at issue here, § 18-18-405(2)(a)(II), increases the level of a defendant's punishment based on a prior conviction but does not prescribe a burden of proof. And, nothing in the language of the statute indicates by what means the existence of a prior conviction is to be determined. Thus, we conclude it is a sentence enhancer of the third type set forth above.

As such, the prosecution was only required to prove the existence of defendant's prior conviction by a preponderance of the evidence and the issue was properly determinable by the trial court. See People v. Vega, 870 P.2d 549 (Colo.App.1993) (similar drug offender recidivism enhancement provision in statute now codified as § 18-18-407(1)(a), C.R.S.1998, should be determined by the trial court under a preponderance of the evidence standard because no bifurcated trial procedure is set forth in the statute) aff'd on other grounds, Vega v. People, supra.

Arguing for a contrary interpretation, defendant notes that at least one trial court has submitted to a jury the determination of a...

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14 practice notes
  • People v. Cisneros, Court of Appeals No. 09CA2717
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • April 24, 2014
    ...Analysis ¶ 12 Section 18–18–407(1)(f) acts as a sentence enhancement provision and not a substantive offense. People v. Whitley, 998 P.2d 31, 33 (Colo.App.1999). Nevertheless, any fact, other than a prior conviction, that increases the penalty for an offense beyond the prescribed statutory ......
  • People v. Gwinn, Court of Appeals No. 16CA1884
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • September 6, 2018
    ...when the defendant may 428 P.3d 737be convicted of the underlying offense without any proof of the prior conviction. People v. Whitley , 998 P.2d 31, 33 (Colo. App. 1999) ; see also Vega , 893 P.2d at 112 ; Armintrout v. People , 864 P.2d 576, 580 (Colo. 1993) ; Schreiber , 226 P.3d at 1223......
  • People v. Cisneros, Court of Appeals No. 09CA2717
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • April 24, 2014
    ...Analysis ¶12 Section 18-18-407(1)(f) acts as a sentence enhancement provision and not a substantive offense. People v. Whitley, 998 P.2d 31, 33 (Colo. App. 1999). Nevertheless, any fact, other than a prior conviction, that increases the penalty for an offense beyond the prescribed statutory......
  • People v. Wilson, Court of Appeals No. 11CA0009
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • May 23, 2013
    ...were decided before Apprendi and Blakely reached the same conclusion. People v. Lacey, 723 P.2d 111, 114 (Colo.1986); People v. Whitley, 998 P.2d 31, 34 (Colo.App.1999). ¶ 44 Defendant argues that, because the enhancement of his conviction from a class 6 felony to a class 4 felony exposes h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • People v. Cisneros, Court of Appeals No. 09CA2717
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • April 24, 2014
    ...Analysis ¶ 12 Section 18–18–407(1)(f) acts as a sentence enhancement provision and not a substantive offense. People v. Whitley, 998 P.2d 31, 33 (Colo.App.1999). Nevertheless, any fact, other than a prior conviction, that increases the penalty for an offense beyond the prescribed statutory ......
  • People v. Gwinn, Court of Appeals No. 16CA1884
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • September 6, 2018
    ...when the defendant may 428 P.3d 737be convicted of the underlying offense without any proof of the prior conviction. People v. Whitley , 998 P.2d 31, 33 (Colo. App. 1999) ; see also Vega , 893 P.2d at 112 ; Armintrout v. People , 864 P.2d 576, 580 (Colo. 1993) ; Schreiber , 226 P.3d at 1223......
  • People v. Cisneros, Court of Appeals No. 09CA2717
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • April 24, 2014
    ...Analysis ¶12 Section 18-18-407(1)(f) acts as a sentence enhancement provision and not a substantive offense. People v. Whitley, 998 P.2d 31, 33 (Colo. App. 1999). Nevertheless, any fact, other than a prior conviction, that increases the penalty for an offense beyond the prescribed statutory......
  • People v. Wilson, Court of Appeals No. 11CA0009
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • May 23, 2013
    ...were decided before Apprendi and Blakely reached the same conclusion. People v. Lacey, 723 P.2d 111, 114 (Colo.1986); People v. Whitley, 998 P.2d 31, 34 (Colo.App.1999). ¶ 44 Defendant argues that, because the enhancement of his conviction from a class 6 felony to a class 4 felony exposes h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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