District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Paul B.
Parker No. 151901362
L. Welch and Maren E. Larson, Attorneys for Appellant
D. Reyes and William M. Hains, Attorneys for Appellee
Kate A. Toomey authored this Memorandum Decision, in which
Judges Michele M. Christiansen and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
Defendant Jaime A. Hernandez pleaded guilty to four
third-degree felonies, and the district court sentenced him
to prison. Hernandez challenges this sentence, arguing that
the court abused its discretion by sentencing him to prison
rather than granting him probation. We affirm.
One morning in January 2015, police officers located a stolen
vehicle in a gas station parking lot. The officers saw
Hernandez enter the stolen vehicle and attempted to box him
in using their police cars. Using the stolen car "as a
weapon, " Hernandez repeatedly rammed it into four
police cars and a private vehicle. Hernandez managed to break
though the barricade and escape.
The officers pursued Hernandez as he fled the scene in the
stolen car. Hernandez eluded the police, avoiding tire spikes
and traveling at speeds up to one hundred miles per hour.
During the chase, Hernandez struck another police vehicle,
sending it off the road. Hernandez then left the stolen
vehicle and continued his flight on foot, refusing to stop at
an officer's command. Officers later found Hernandez
hiding on a roof and apprehended him. They searched Hernandez
and found marijuana and methamphetamine. At the time of the
incident, Hernandez was on probation for another crime.
Hernandez was charged with eight felonies and two
misdemeanors. He ultimately pleaded guilty to four
third-degree felonies: attempted theft by receiving stolen
property, possession of a controlled substance, aggravated
assault, and failure to respond to an officer's signal to
Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) prepared a presentence
investigation report (PSI) recommending that the court impose
a prison sentence. The report considered Hernandez's
prior criminal activity, his re-offense after completing a
drug-treatment program, and his prior unsuccessful
probations. The report also observed Hernandez's remorse,
positive attitude, his family support, and his desire to
complete a residential substance-abuse program. But because
of the violent nature of Hernandez's past and present
offenses and his continued drug use, AP&P concluded
Hernandez was not an appropriate candidate for probation.
At the sentencing hearing, Hernandez reaffirmed his desire to
be placed on probation, to participate in a residential
substance-abuse program, and to reform his life. The court
considered Hernandez's request but explained that
Hernandez had already been granted probation and placement in
a substance-abuse program just one year prior. Because
Hernandez had been involved in so many offenses, particularly
drug offenses, the court believed Hernandez had made choices
sufficient to require the court to deny his request. It
sentenced Hernandez to zero to five years imprisonment on
each count. The sentences were to run concurrently with each
other but consecutively to the sentence for which Hernandez
was on probation. Hernandez appeals.
Hernandez contends the sentencing court abused its discretion
because it failed to "adequately consider his character,
attitude and rehabilitative needs before denying him the
opportunity for a non-prison sentence." According to
Hernandez, the court overlooked his rehabilitative needs,
amenability to treatment, and readiness to complete
probation, which he claims justify a reversal of his
sentence. We disagree.
We review sentencing decisions for an abuse of discretion.
State v. Valdovinos, 2003 UT App 432, ¶ 14, 82
P.3d 1167. "An abuse of discretion results when the
judge fails to consider all legally relevant factors or if
the sentence imposed is clearly excessive." Id.
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "An
appellate court may only find abuse if it can be said that no
reasonable [person] would take the view adopted by the trial
court." Id. (alteration in original) (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted).
"The decision whether to grant probation is within the
complete discretion of the trial court." State v.
Rhodes, 818 P.2d 1048, 1049 (Utah Ct. App. 1991) (citing
State v. Sibert, 310 P.2d 388, 393 (Utah 1957)).
When determining whether to grant probation, the sentencing
court considers the "intangibles of character,
personality and attitude" "in connection with the
prior record of the accused." Id. (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). "A defendant is not
entitled to probation, but rather the [trial] court is
empowered to place the defendant on probation if it thinks
that will best serve the ends of justice and is compatible
with the public interest." Valdovinos, 2003 UT
App 432, ¶ 23 (alteration in original) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). A sentence will be
overturned only when it is ...