State v. Chorney, No. 21,769.

Docket NºNo. 21,769.
Citation2001 NMCA 50, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d 538
Case DateJune 27, 2001
CourtCourt of Appeals of New Mexico

29 P.3d 538
130 N.M. 638
2001 NMCA 50

STATE of New Mexico, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Richard CHORNEY, Defendant-Appellant

No. 21,769.

Court of Appeals of New Mexico.

June 27, 2001.


29 P.3d 539
Patricia A. Madrid, Attorney General, Katherine Zinn, Assistant Attorney General, Santa Fe, NM, for Appellee

Phyllis H. Subin, Chief Public Defender, Sheila Lewis, Assistant Appellate Defender, Santa Fe, NM, for Appellant.

OPINION

SUTIN, Judge.

{1} Defendant Richard Chorney appeals the use of a habitual offender enhancement to extend his criminal incompetency commitment. We reverse.

BACKGROUND

{2} Defendant was convicted of shoplifting, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, negligent use of a weapon, and unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon, together with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Shortly after Defendant's convictions, the State filed a supplemental information charging Defendant as a three-felony habitual offender under NMSA 1978, § 31-18-17 (1993). Before sentencing, Defendant was charged separately with new offenses. Before he could be sentenced for the crimes of which he was convicted or tried on the new charges, all criminal proceedings were suspended for a determination of competency pursuant to the Mental Illness and Competency Act (the Act), NMSA 1978, §§ 31-9-1 to -1.5 (1988, as amended through 1999).

{3} The district court determined that Defendant was incompetent to proceed and dangerous. After a Section 31-9-1.5 hearing, the court committed Defendant to the Las Vegas Medical Center for treatment for a term of up to ten years and six months, consisting of eighteen months for the underlying charge of aggravated assault, one year for firearm enhancement, and an eight-year enhancement because Defendant was a habitual offender.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

{4} Because we interpret the language of Section 31-9-1.5, our review is de novo. State v. Rowell, 121 N.M. 111, 114, 908 P.2d 1379, 1382 (1995). Our task is "to

29 P.3d 540
ascertain and effectuate the intent of the legislature" as to whether the mandatory habitual offender enhancement can be invoked to enhance a Section 31-9-1.5 commitment. State v. Anaya, 1997-NMSC-010, ¶ 28, 123 N.M. 14, 933 P.2d 223. "[C]riminal statutes providing for more [than the basic] punishment should . . . be strictly construed." Id. ¶ 30

B. The Contentions

{5} Once committed under Section 31-9-1.5(D)(1) of the Act,

the defendant shall not be released from that secure facility except pursuant to an order of the district court which committed him or upon expiration of the period of time equal to the maximum sentence to which the defendant would have been subject had the defendant been convicted in a criminal proceeding[.]

Section 31-9-1.5(D)(2).

{6} Defendant contends Section 31-9-1.5(D)(2) subjected him to a "maximum sentence" of only two and one-half years, that is, the eighteen-month sentence for aggravated assault and the one-year firearm enhancement. He argues that legislative silence on the matter requires that we presume the Legislature did not intend the habitual offender statute to apply to defendants committed under the Act. See Anaya, 1997-NMSC-010, ¶ 31, 123 N.M. 14, 933 P.2d 223 (stating that legislative silence in Section 31-18-17 and the DWI statute in question was "the strongest evidence that the legislature did not intend the habitual offender sentences. . . to apply") (emphasis omitted); Swafford v. State, 112 N.M. 3, 16, 810 P.2d 1223, 1236 (1991) (stating that "the legislature has an obligation to state its intentions as clearly as possible" in the area of criminal punishment enhancement); see also State v. Begay, 2001-NMSC-002, ¶¶ 4-9, 130 N.M. 61, 17 P.3d 434 (stating the Anaya analysis controlled). In addition, Defendant argues that if we find the statutes ambiguous, we must apply the rule of lenity. See id. ¶ 7.

{7} Further, quoting from Justice Minzner's concurrence in State v. Rotherham, 122 N.M. 246, 266, 923 P.2d 1131, 1151, Defendant argues that the Act provisions must be "narrowly tailored to serve [the Legislature's] purpose." Defendant argues that extending the term of incarceration based on prior offenses reflects a penal, pretrial detention goal, amounting to punishment that conflicts with the Act's purpose of treating a defendant.

{8} Conversely, the State asks us to decide the issue by looking at the words and meaning of Section 31-9-1.5 in combination with sentencing authority statutes. See NMSA 1978, §§ 31-18-15 (1999), -16 (1993), -17 (1993). The State relies on the words of Section 31-9-1.5(D)(2): "maximum sentence to which the defendant would have been subject had the defendant been convicted in a criminal proceeding." Section 31-18-15(A)(6) establishes the basic sentence of eighteen months imprisonment for fourth degree felonies such as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, NMSA 1978, § 30-3-2(A) (1963). That sentence shall be increased one year if a firearm is used. See § 31-18-16(A). If the defendant has been convicted of three prior felonies, the basic eighteen months sentence must be increased by eight years, not to be "suspended or deferred." Section 31-18-17(D).

{9} According to the State, when these sentencing statutes are read together, the ordinary meaning of the words and the only reasonable interpretation of the statutes is that a defendant's "maximum sentence" in Section 31-9-1.5(D)(2) includes a basic sentence and any required enhancements. Looking...

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7 practice notes
  • State v. Quintana, No. S-1-SC-37570
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • March 25, 2021
    ...NMSA 1978, §§ 31-18-12 to -26 (1977, as amended through 2020). The Court of Appeals applied State v. Chorney , 2001-NMCA-050, ¶¶ 11-12, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d 538, in determining that the enhancement in this case serves the legislative purposes underlying the NMMIC. State v. Quintana , 2019-......
  • State v. Brothers, No. 22,377.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • September 25, 2002
    ...register. We must also construe the deferred sentencing statute. We review these issues de novo. See State v. Chorney, 2001-NMCA-050, ¶ 4, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d 538; Bajart v. Univ. of N.M., 1999-NMCA-064, ¶ 7, 127 N.M. 311, 980 P.2d A. Completion of a Deferred Sentence Does Not Eradicate a......
  • State v. Demongey, No. 26,453.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • February 29, 2008
    ...to Defendant's term of commitment. We review the interpretation of Section 31-9-1.5 de novo. See State v. Chorney, 2001-NMCA-050, ¶ 4, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d {40} Section 31-9-1.5(D)(2) provides that when the district court finds by clear and convincing evidence that an incompetent defendant......
  • State v. Moya, No. 29,919.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • May 14, 2007
    ...Legislature intended such a result under a statute enacted to reduce recidivism. See State v. Chorney, 2001-NMCA-050, 161 P.3d 865 ¶ 13, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d 538 ("The habitual offender statute has as its primary purpose to deter {9} Furthermore, we must construe Section 31-18-17(D)(2) in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • State v. Quintana, No. S-1-SC-37570
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • March 25, 2021
    ...NMSA 1978, §§ 31-18-12 to -26 (1977, as amended through 2020). The Court of Appeals applied State v. Chorney , 2001-NMCA-050, ¶¶ 11-12, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d 538, in determining that the enhancement in this case serves the legislative purposes underlying the NMMIC. State v. Quintana , 2019-......
  • State v. Brothers, No. 22,377.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • September 25, 2002
    ...register. We must also construe the deferred sentencing statute. We review these issues de novo. See State v. Chorney, 2001-NMCA-050, ¶ 4, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d 538; Bajart v. Univ. of N.M., 1999-NMCA-064, ¶ 7, 127 N.M. 311, 980 P.2d A. Completion of a Deferred Sentence Does Not Eradicate a......
  • State v. Demongey, No. 26,453.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • February 29, 2008
    ...to Defendant's term of commitment. We review the interpretation of Section 31-9-1.5 de novo. See State v. Chorney, 2001-NMCA-050, ¶ 4, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d {40} Section 31-9-1.5(D)(2) provides that when the district court finds by clear and convincing evidence that an incompetent defendant......
  • State v. Moya, No. 29,919.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • May 14, 2007
    ...Legislature intended such a result under a statute enacted to reduce recidivism. See State v. Chorney, 2001-NMCA-050, 161 P.3d 865 ¶ 13, 130 N.M. 638, 29 P.3d 538 ("The habitual offender statute has as its primary purpose to deter {9} Furthermore, we must construe Section 31-18-17(D)(2) in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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