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Criminal Savings Statute

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Case:  State of Tennessee v. Marvin Maurice DeBerry

Facts:  Defendant was convicted of driving after having been declared a motor vehicle habitual offender (“MVHO”). After his conviction but prior to his sentencing, an amendment to the statute that was the basis of his MVHO conviction went into effect, so that the Defendant’s conduct was no longer criminalized and, concomitantly, triggered no penalty. The trial court, after initially sentencing the Defendant to serve five years, modified the Defendant’s judgment to reflect that he was to be subjected to no penalty.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court affirmed the reduction of the punishment to no penalty, holding that the savings statute in Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-11-112 applies because Legislature’s act of removing punishment for the offense constitutes a lesser penalty.

Review Granted:  September 23, 2021.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will affirm and hold that no penalty should be imposed for the reasons stated by the intermediate court.