State v. Richards, 97-215

Decision Date04 November 1997
Docket NumberNo. 97-215,97-215
Citation948 P.2d 240,285 Mont. 322
PartiesSTATE of Montana, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Thomas C. RICHARDS, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtMontana Supreme Court

Bethany F. Schendel, Great Falls, for Defendant and Appellant.

Joseph P. Mazurek, Attorney General; Micheal S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena; Brant Light, Cascade County Attorney, Great Falls, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

REGNIER, Justice.

Thomas C. Richards appeals from that portion of a sentence and judgment entered by the Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County, restricting his access to Cascade County, and from a subsequent order of the court mandating that he pay restitution in the amount of $10,438.05 for counseling costs incurred by one of his victims. We vacate the court's order that Richards pay $10,438.05 in restitution, and hold we lack jurisdiction to review Richards' original sentence.

We rephrase the issues presented on appeal as follows:

1. Did the District Court err in ordering that Richards pay restitution in the amount of $10,438.05 for counseling costs incurred by one of his victims?

2. Did the District Court err in restricting Richards from entering Cascade County as a condition of his suspended sentence?

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

By way of an information filed May 25, 1994, the State charged Richards with two counts of felony criminal endangerment to which he subsequently pled not guilty. On November 9, 1994, the State amended its information to charge Richards with one count of felony assault and one count of misdemeanor assault, in violation of § 45-5-201, MCA. Richards entered a plea of not guilty to each count at his November 21 1994, arraignment. On February 10, 1995, Richards entered into a plea agreement with the State, and on April 10, 1995, he pled guilty to both counts contained in the amended information.

On May 9, 1995, District Court Judge Robert Goff sentenced Richards to five years in the Montana State Prison with all time suspended on the count of felony assault. With respect to the count of misdemeanor assault, Judge Goff sentenced Richards to six months in the Cascade County Jail, suspending all but the 225 days already served. Judge Goff gave Richards credit for the 225 days already served, and ordered the sentences to run consecutively.

The court imposed a number of conditions upon Richards' suspended sentence, among which were the following:

1. Defendant shall be restricted from entering Cascade County, Montana. [Condition # 9]

2. Defendant shall pay restitution to the Crime Victim's Compensation Unit in the amount of $4,174.46. [Condition # 13]

3. The Defendant shall pay for any future counseling costs of Timi Gilbreath and/or Amanda Gilbreath. [Condition # 15]

On August 26, 1996, the State filed a motion asking that the court order Richards to pay $10,438.05 in restitution. The amount requested represented the balance due on a bill from Deaconess Medical Center for inpatient psychiatric treatment received by Timi Gilbreath in October 1994. On January 23, 1997, following a hearing on the State's motion, the court ordered that Richards pay restitution in the amount of $10,438.05, less any amounts previously reimbursed by worker's compensation insurance by reason of a prior industrial injury to which portions of the bill may have related. On January 31, 1997, the court issued a supplemental order in which it directed that Richards remit his restitution payments to the Clerk of the District Court who was, in turn, to forward them to Deaconess Medical Center.

On February 10, 1997, Richards filed his notice of appeal from the court's January 23, 1997, restitution order and from its January 31, 1997, supplemental order. Richards additionally seeks, in effect, to appeal from that portion of the District Court's May 9, 1995, sentencing order which restricted Richards from entering Cascade County.

ISSUE 1

Did the District Court err in ordering that Richards pay restitution for counseling costs, in the amount of $10,438.05, incurred by one of his victims?

We review the imposition of a sentence "for legality only." State v. Graves (1995), 272 Mont. 451, 463, 901 P.2d 549, 557. We have held that "[t]he standard of review on sentence legality is whether the district court abused its discretion." Graves, 272 Mont. at 463, 901 P.2d at 557.

On appeal, Richards presents three separate arguments in support of his contention that the District Court erred in ordering him to pay $10,438.05 in restitution. Richards first argues that, in ordering he make additional restitution, the court erroneously modified an otherwise valid sentence. Richards next argues the court erred in imposing the $10,438.05 of restitution because that amount did not reflect pecuniary loss suffered by the victim. Finally, Richards contends the court erred in ordering him to pay restitution to Deaconess Medical Center because it failed to consider his financial resources and future ability to pay.

As noted, Richards first argues the District Court erred in ordering him to pay $10,438.05 in restitution on the basis that, having imposed a valid sentence by way of its May 9, 1995, order, the court lacked jurisdiction to subsequently modify that sentence. Indeed, this Court has recognized that "[o]nce a valid sentence has been pronounced, the court imposing that sentence has no jurisdiction to modify it, except as provided by statute." State v. Fertterer (1993), 260 Mont. 397, 400, 860 P.2d 151, 154. Pursuant to § 46-18-117, MCA, a court may modify or "correct an erroneous sentence or disposition at any time and may correct a sentence imposed in an illegal manner within 120 days after the sentence is imposed or after remand from an appellate court."

The State, in fact, agrees that, pursuant to Montana law, once a district court pronounces a valid sentence and judgment, it has no jurisdiction to modify that sentence except as provided by law. The State does argue, however, that in ordering Richards to pay restitution to Deaconess Medical Center, the District Court was not modifying the previously imposed sentence, but rather, was adhering to the original intent of the sentencing court which was that Richards make full restitution to his victims.

In support of its argument that the court's January 23, 1997, order regarding restitution did not constitute a modification of Richards' sentence, the State points to that portion of the presentence investigation report in which Richards stated that: "More...

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10 cases
  • State v. Herman
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • May 29, 2008
    ...P.3d 169, ¶ 27. In the past, this Court has stated that we will review a sentence for abuse of discretion. E.g. State v. Richards, 285 Mont. 322, 324, 948 P.2d 240, 241 (1997). In 1999, the Court held that we will only review sentences for legality, and we will not apply an abuse of discret......
  • State v. Muhammad
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • March 18, 2002
    ...the May 28, 1999, Order, he is precluded from now challenging the legality of the conditions therein imposed. See State v. Richards (1997), 285 Mont. 322, 948 P.2d 240. Having held we lack jurisdiction to address the legality of the banishment condition imposed in the May 28, 1999, Order, w......
  • State v. Setters, 99-110.
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • June 12, 2001
    ...a sentence for legality only. State v. Hilgers, 1999 MT 284, ¶ 6, 297 Mont. 23, ¶ 6, 989 P.2d 866, ¶ 6 (citing State v. Richards (1997), 285 Mont. 322, 324, 948 P.2d 240, 241). See also State v. Rennick, 1999 MT 155, ¶ 7, 295 Mont. 97, ¶ 7, 983 P.2d 907, ¶ 7; State v. Graves (1995), 272 Mon......
  • State v. Horton, 99-650.
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • June 12, 2001
    ...a sentence for legality only. State v. Hilgers, 1999 MT 284, ¶ 6, 297 Mont. 23, ¶ 6, 989 P.2d 866, ¶ 6 (citing State v. Richards (1997), 285 Mont. 322, 324, 948 P.2d 240, 241). See also State v. Rennick, 1999 MT 155, ¶ 7, 295 Mont. 97, ¶ 7, 983 P.2d 907, ¶ 7; State v. Graves (1995), 272 Mon......
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