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State v. Robinson

Court of Appeals of Utah

December 13, 2018

State of Utah, Appellee,
Timothy Ryan Robinson, Appellant.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Vernice S. Trease No. 161901905

          Debra M. Nelson and Wojciech S. Nitecki, Attorneys for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Jonathan S. Bauer, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Diana Hagen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Ryan M. Harris concurred.

          HAGEN, JUDGE.

         ¶1 Timothy Ryan Robinson appeals his sentence for aggravated assault, arguing that the district court failed to properly resolve an inaccuracy in his presentence investigation report (PSR). Specifically, Robinson objected to the four points added to his criminal history score based on his prior conviction for assault on a police officer. In determining that the assault was a "person crime with injury" for purposes of the sentencing guidelines, the district court looked to the PSR, police report, and photographs from the prior crime and concluded that an "injury" occurred where Robinson punched the police officer in the face, causing pain and a laceration to his nose. Robinson argues that the court should not have relied on such evidence and that the court abused its discretion by finding that the injury sustained by the police officer qualified for the four-point assessment. We affirm.


         ¶2 Following an episode of domestic violence between Robinson and his wife, the State charged Robinson with several offenses, including aggravated assault. In exchange for the State dismissing six of the charges, Robinson pled guilty to one count of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, with a weapon enhancement.

         ¶3 At the district court's request, Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) conducted an investigation and submitted a PSR. As part of the PSR, AP&P calculated a criminal history assessment score for Robinson, which it then incorporated into the Utah Sentencing Commission's general matrix (Sentencing Matrix). The Sentencing Matrix "compare[s] a defendant's 'criminal history assessment' score with the degree of the offense of which he ha[s] been convicted" to "assist sentencing judges in deciding whether or not to incarcerate." State v. Egbert, 748 P.2d 558, 561- 62 (Utah 1987) (Durham, J., dissenting).

         ¶4 Robinson received a criminal history assessment score of eight, placing him in criminal history category III. Four of the eight criminal history points were based on Robinson's prior conviction for attempted homicide, which AP&P categorized as a "person crime with injury."[1] When viewed in conjunction with the third-degree felony to which Robinson pled guilty, Robinson's category III score produced a recommendation of an "intermediate sanction" on the Sentencing Matrix-i.e., "any sanction between regular probation and prison." Utah Sentencing Comm'n, Adult Sentencing & Release Guidelines 17 (2015), AP&P recommended, however, that the district court deviate from that recommendation and impose the maximum sentence of one-to-ten years in the Utah State Prison "due to the extremely brutal nature of the offense, as well as the defendant's repeated history of violent behaviors," which indicate that Robinson is "an immediate public safety risk."

         ¶5 Robinson challenged the accuracy of the PSR, arguing that AP&P had incorrectly categorized his prior attempted homicide conviction as a "person crime with injury" based on the mistaken belief that the offense had resulted in death. Because no injury or death had occurred during the commission of that prior crime, Robinson argued that he should have been awarded only two points instead of four toward the total score on his criminal history assessment. A reduced criminal history score of six would have placed him in criminal history category II, resulting in a recommendation of "probation" under the Sentencing Matrix.

         ¶6 After reviewing the objections to the PSR, AP&P admitted that it had erroneously stated that Robinson had previously caused the death of another individual. But AP&P determined that Robinson should nevertheless be assessed four points for committing a prior person crime with injury based on a separate class A misdemeanor conviction for assaulting a police officer.

         ¶7 Robinson moved the district court to correct the PSR, contending that AP&P's amended evaluation was "driven by the earlier error[] rather than a fair assessment of the facts" underlying the prior assault conviction. Robinson further argued that the award of four points was "particularly inappropriate" because the PSR for the prior assault conviction reflected that the police officer reported "no physical or emotional injury as a result of the incident."

         ¶8 The district court requested that Robinson submit the police report, photographs, and PSR from the prior assault case for it to consider. Before relying on that evidence to determine whether Robinson's prior person crime conviction involved an injury, the court asked, "[D]oes anybody contest what the photograph and the police reports say?" Robinson's counsel responded, "No." The court followed up by asking, "[D]oes everybody agree the police reports are what they are? This is what they say? The photographs of the police officer." In response, Robinson's counsel stated, "That is correct."

         ¶9 The district court ultimately determined that Robinson's prior assault conviction qualified as a "person crime with injury" under the Sentencing Matrix. Because the sentencing guidelines do not include a definition of "injury," the district court referred to the Utah Criminal Code, which defines "bodily injury" as "physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition." See Utah Code Ann. § 76-1-601 (LexisNexis 2017). Based on this definition, the court found "the officer did have an injury," even if it was minor. In support of its finding, the court pointed to the police report, which stated that the officer had been "punched in the nose by [Robinson]," and the photograph, which showed "blood on the left side of his nose."

         ¶10 The district court adopted the PSR, including the four-point enhancement for the prior assault, and ultimately sentenced Robinson to one-to-ten years in prison, the maximum permissible sentence for a third-degree felony with an enhancement for the use of a dangerous weapon. In doing so, the court stated ...

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