State v. Trujillo

Decision Date21 April 2005
Docket NumberNo. 2003AP1463-CR.,2003AP1463-CR.
Citation2005 WI 45,694 N.W.2d 933,279 Wis.2d 712
PartiesSTATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Jose A. TRUJILLO, Defendant-Appellant-Petitioner.
CourtWisconsin Supreme Court

For the defendant-appellant-petitioner there were briefs and oral argument by Suzanne L. Hagopian, assistant state public defender.

For the plaintiff-respondent the cause was argued by James M. Freimuth, assistant attorney general, with whom on the brief was Peggy A. Lautenschlager, attorney general.

N. PATRICK CROOKS, J.

¶ 1. Petitioner Jose Trujillo (Trujillo) appeals an order of the court of appeals, affirming the circuit court's denial of his motion for sentence modification under Wis. Stat. § 809.30(2)(h) (2001-02).1 The Kenosha County Circuit Court, Judge S. Michael Wilk presiding, held that a reduction in the maximum penalty for the crime of burglary, which resulted from the truth-in-sentencing provisions of 2001 Wis. Act 109 (TIS-II), does not amount to a new factor in regard to a sentence modification motion, where the original sentence was imposed in accord with 1997 Wis. Act 283 (TIS-I). Trujillo appeals this decision because he claims that the reduction of the maximum penalty permitted by TIS-II, from the sentence imposed on him on the basis of a higher permitted maximum in TIS-I, is highly relevant to the imposition of his original sentence and, thus, a new factor.

¶ 2. We agree with the State of Wisconsin (State) that TIS-II's reduced maximum confinement for the same TIS-I felony does not constitute a new factor when a defendant moves for the modification of a sentence imposed under TIS-I. The legislature has not mandated the retroactive application of the reduced penalties, but has provided an adequate remedy by enacting Wis. Stat. § 973.195.2 We conclude that although though Trujillo's initial confinement time for burglary exceeded the TIS-II maximum, this change was not highly relevant to the imposition of his TIS-I sentence. In so holding, "we continue to employ existing `new factor' jurisprudence for TIS-I sentences," State v. Crochiere, 2004 WI 78, ¶ 2, 273 Wis. 2d 57, 681 N.W.2d 524, and therefore we reaffirm rather than overrule this court's decision in State v. Hegwood, 113 Wis. 2d 544, 335 N.W.2d 399 (1983), and the court of appeals' decisions in State v. Torres, 2003 WI App 199, 267 Wis. 2d 213, 670 N.W.2d 400, and State v. Longmire, 2004 WI App 90, 272 Wis. 2d 759, 681 N.W.2d 534. Accordingly, we affirm the order of the court of appeals.

I

¶ 3. Wisconsin shifted its sentencing scheme from indeterminate to determinate when TIS-I went into effect on December 31, 1999. Wis. Stat. §§ 973.01(1) and (2). The use of indeterminate sentencing, prior to TIS-I, guaranteed that a convicted defendant would serve for a stated number of years, but that the parole board would determine how much of that sentence was served in prison.3 State v. Gallion, 2004 WI 42, ¶ 28, 270 Wis. 2d 535, 678 N.W.2d 197.

¶ 4. TIS-I was the first of two truth-in-sentencing acts passed by the Wisconsin Legislature. The second act, TIS-II, became effective on February 1, 2003, and has modified TIS-I. Under TIS-I, "a circuit court was required to impose a bifurcated sentence consisting of a term of confinement in prison followed by a term of extended supervision whenever it sentence[d] a person to `imprisonment in the Wisconsin state prisons.'" State v. Cole, 2003 WI 59, ¶ 16, 262 Wis. 2d 167, 663 N.W.2d 700 (quoting Wis. Stat. § 973.01(1)).4 Additionally, TIS-I provided that those serving a bifurcated sentence were not eligible for parole, and eliminated the possibility for a reduction in confinement time for good behavior. Wis. Stat. §§ 973.01(4) and (6).5 "With limited exceptions, § 973.01 removed all statutory provisions that might serve to reduce an inmate's confinement based on the inmate's rehabilitation." State v. Champion, 2002 WI App 267, ¶ 7, 258 Wis. 2d 781, 654 N.W.2d 242 (footnote omitted).

¶ 5. After TIS-I was drafted, the legislature established the Criminal Penalties Study Committee (CPSC) to make recommendations and to propose additional TIS legislation. In order to give the CPSC enough time to complete its task, the legislature created an 18-month window between the date the legislature passed TIS-I and the date it was to go into effect. Cole, 262 Wis. 2d 167, ¶ 41; see also Michael B. Brennan, Thomas J. Hammer, Donald V. Latorraca, Fully Implementing Truth-in-Sentencing, Wisconsin Lawyer, Nov. 2002, at 11; see also Wisconsin Legislative Council Information Memorandum 98-11, LRB-3154/1 (June 24, 1998). Although the CPSC finished its report on the necessary supplementation of TIS-I, the legislature did not enact these suggestions until after TIS-I became effective. Cole, 262 Wis. 2d 167, ¶ 41 (citing Brennan, Fully Implementing Truth-in-Sentencing, at 12).

¶ 6. TIS-II adopted many of the proposals from the CPSC report. Notably, TIS-II included the recommendation that "provisions in criminal statutes establishing minimum sentences (presumptive or otherwise) or mandatory consecutive sentences be repealed." Criminal Penalties Study Comm., Final Report on 1997 Wisconsin Act 283, Truth In Sentencing, at 63 (Aug. 31, 1999). CPSC stated that the reason for the change was "to allow courts `maximum sentencing discretion to deal with the multitude of offenders who commit crimes and the multitude of ways in which they do so.'" Cole, 262 Wis. 2d 167, ¶ 42 (citing Criminal Penalties Study Comm., at 63). The effect of TIS-II was that many of the statutory classifications of felonies were revised in order to reduce the maximum sentences. The result caused by the delay between the enactment of TIS-I and TIS-II was that defendants convicted of felonies between December 31, 1999, and February 1, 2003, generally serve longer periods of confinement than the maximum provided for in TIS-II.

¶ 7. On April 9, 2002, Trujillo was charged with four crimes: second degree sexual assault of an unconscious victim, fourth-degree sexual assault, criminal trespass to a dwelling, and disorderly conduct. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Trujillo pled guilty to the crimes of burglary, a Class C felony, and fourth-degree sexual assault, a Class A misdemeanor, on July 22, 2002. The circuit court sentenced Trujillo to a term of eight years of confinement and five years of extended supervision for the felony burglary conviction, and a consecutive incarceration term of nine months for the misdemeanor sexual assault.

¶ 8. Before TIS-I, burglary was a Class C felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Under TIS-I, burglary remained a Class C felony, but the maximum penalty was increased to 15 years of imprisonment, of which up to ten years could be ordered as initial confinement. TIS-II made burglary a Class F felony with a maximum penalty of 12.5 years. Under this penalty scheme, the term of initial confinement may not exceed seven years and six months. Thus, under TIS-I, Trujillo was sentenced to six months more initial confinement than was possible for the same offense under TIS-II.

¶ 9. Trujillo brought a postconviction motion on April 8, 2003, seeking modification of his burglary sentence pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 809.30(2)(h).6 At a hearing for such relief on May 14, 2003, the circuit court denied the motion, and determined that this court's decision in Hegwood controlled, and that "the change in the statute does not effect the penalties created by the former statute unless the legislature specifically and expressly abrogates the penalties and indicated that it would relate back in some fashion." Trujillo appealed that decision to the court of appeals, where the decision of the circuit court was summarily affirmed. In a brief order, the court of appeals held that, based upon its prior decision in Torres,7 "the reduction in the criminal penalty for an offense affected by the truth-in-sentencing provisions contained in TIS-II, does not constitute a new factor...." We accepted review and now affirm.

II

[1-3]

¶ 10. It is well established that a circuit court has inherent authority to modify a sentence. Hegwood, 113 Wis. 2d at 546. This inherent power can be used to prevent the continuation of unjust sentences and must be exercised within defined parameters. Crochiere, 273 Wis. 2d 57, ¶¶ 11-12. One such parameter to modify a sentence is through the showing of a new factor.8 Id., ¶ 13.

[4-6]

¶ 11. Whether a new factor exists is a question of law, which we review de novo. State v. Lechner, 217 Wis. 2d 392, 424, 576 N.W.2d 912 (1998). "The existence of a new factor does not, however, automatically entitle the defendant to relief." Hegwood, 113 Wis. 2d at 546. The question of whether the sentence warrants modification is left to the discretion of the circuit court. Id. We will not overrule that decision unless the court's discretion was erroneously exercised. Lechner, 217 Wis. 2d at 424.

[7]

¶ 12. We also address issues regarding the interpretation of TIS legislation and Wis. Stat. § 973.195. Our analysis of such issues also involves a question of law which we review de novo. In Meriter Hospital Inc. v. Dane County, 2004 WI 145, 277 Wis. 2d 1, 69 N.W.2d 627, we stated:

The interpretation of a statute presents a question of law, which we review de novo. State v. Williams, 198 Wis. 2d 516, 525, 544 N.W.2d 406 (1996). Although we consider this question independent of the decisions of the circuit court and the court of appeals, we nevertheless benefit from their analyses. Meyer v. Sch. Dist. of Colby, 226 Wis. 2d 704, 708, 595 N.W.2d 339 (1999).
When interpreting a statute, the primary objective "is to determine what the statute means so that it may be given its full, proper, and intended effect." State ex rel. Kalal v. Circuit Court, 2004 WI 58, ¶ 44, 271 Wis. 2d 633, 662, 681 N.W.2d 110. Knowing this, the court's analysis should begin with the plain language of the statutory
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