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Alternative Sentencing

December 16, 2016

Alternative Sentencing

CaseState of Tennessee v. Kevin E. Trent

Issue:  Did the trial court err in rejecting alternative sentencing?

Facts:  Defendant entered into a plea agreement to vehicular homicide by intoxication for an eight year sentence with the manner of sentence to be determined by the trial court. The court denied probation and  ordered confinement. The defendant argues that the decision was error because the trial court incorrectly concluded that confinement was necessary to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court reversed, finding an absence of evidence in the record to support the sentence, including the circumstances of the offense and the amount of intoxication. Moreover, the elements of the offense themselves “cannot be the basis for further or stricter punishment,” or else all defendant would be denied alternative sentencing.

Review Granted:  November 17, 2016.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will affirm. Although trial courts have wide latitude in sentencing, there must be sufficient evidence to support confinement. David believes the Supreme Court will reverse. The recent cases on pretrial diversion give far more weigh to discretionary sentencing decisions. The only way the Supreme Court would affirm is if there is some evidentiary deficiency.