District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Keith A.
Kelly No. 151907577
Minow Smith, Attorney for Appellant
Simarjit S. Gill, Jon D. Shuman, and Matthew J. Hansen,
Attorneys for Appellee
David N. Mortensen authored this Opinion, in which Judges J.
Frederic Voros Jr. and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
After stalking his neighbor and trespassing on her property,
Defendant Robert Earl Cline was sentenced to jail and placed
on probation. He now appeals, arguing that the sentences were
an abuse of the district court's discretion. We affirm.
Defendant was on probation in an unrelated case when he met
Neighbor. Defendant began arriving at Neighbor's home
uninvited, calling her repeatedly, and sending her emails.
Five months after their initial meeting, Neighbor was living
in fear for her safety and suffering "constant
harassment" from Defendant. Neighbor called the police
one day when she found Defendant loitering on her porch. When
the police arrived, Defendant allegedly claimed he was
married to Neighbor and identified himself by the name of
Neighbor's ex-husband. Defendant was charged with
criminal trespass, a class A misdemeanor under section
76-6-206(2)(b)(i) of the Utah Code, and giving false personal
information to a peace officer, a class A misdemeanor under
section 76-8-507(2) (collectively, Case One). While Case One
was pending, Neighbor obtained a civil stalking injunction
Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty to the
criminal trespass charge, and the State dismissed the false
information charge. The district court accepted the plea in
Case One and released Defendant to pretrial services,
ordering him to have no contact with Neighbor. Defendant
promptly disobeyed that order, and the court revoked the
order of release. Shortly thereafter, at a bail hearing, the
court again agreed to release Defendant pending sentencing
and gave "the strict order that he have absolutely no
contact" with Neighbor. The court also ordered Defendant
to cooperate in the preparation of a presentence
Six days after the second order to avoid contact with
Neighbor, Defendant showed up at her house. He was then
charged with stalking, a class A misdemeanor under section
76-5-106.5(3)(a) (Case Two).
Defendant pled guilty in Case Two and was immediately
sentenced in both cases. The district court reviewed the
presentence investigation report and largely followed its
recommendations. For Case One, the court sentenced Defendant
to jail,  placed Defendant on probation for 24
months, and entered additional orders related to
Defendant's conduct and treatment. The district court
ordered an identical sentence in Case Two and made clear that
the second sentence was "to run concurrently with the
jail time" in Defendant's other cases.
Defendant appealed from both sentences, and we consolidated
the two appeals. We consider the single issue of whether the
district court abused its discretion by sentencing Defendant
to jail and probation.
A district court abuses its discretion during sentencing if
it fails "to consider all legally relevant factors, or
if the sentence imposed exceeds the limits prescribed by law.
Generally, a . . . sentence should be overturned only when it
is inherently unfair or clearly excessive." State v.
Law, 2003 UT App 228, ¶ 5, 75 P.3d 923 (citations
and internal quotation marks omitted).
Defendant argues that while "some jail time and
probation" would have been appropriate, the decision to
impose 180 days of jail followed by 24 months of probation
was not supported by the record. In his view, "his
character, attitude, and rehabilitative needs, "
combined with a "criminal history [that] consisted of
misdemeanors, and mostly class B misdemeanors, " called
for a sentence that "focus[ed] on mental health
treatment to prevent future problems of the same nature"
because "jail was not going to solve his ongoing
trouble." We read Defendant's argument to mean that
because mental health concerns might have contributed to
Defendant's behavior, such considerations should have
been the district court's primary focus in sentencing
This argument lacks merit because, in sentencing Defendant,
the district court appropriately considered Defendant's
apparent need for mental health treatment along with
Neighbor's need for safety and society's interest in
punishment and deterrence. The district court's
resolution of these competing needs was not inherently unfair
or clearly excessive. Defendant had demonstrated a
willingness to flout orders prohibiting his contact with
Neighbor when he ignored the initial no-contact order, when
he violated the civil stalking injunction, and when he
disregarded the second, stricter no-contact order ...