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State v. Croasmun

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 7, 2014


Assigned on Briefs August 12, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Cannon County Nos. F12-58, F12-94 David M. Bragg, Judge

Kenneth R. McKnight, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Brandon Croasmun.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Trevor Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.



On July 20, 2012, the defendant pleaded guilty to six counts of forgery and received an agreed, effective sentence of four years on probation. On November 1, 2012, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and agreed to the revocation of his probation in the forgery case. The trial court sentenced the defendant to 10 years in a community corrections program, to be served consecutively to the defendant's four-year sentence in the forgery case, for an effective 14-year sentence in community corrections placement.

In May 2013, the defendant was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and a violation of the implied consent law. The defendant pleaded guilty to the implied consent violation and the lesser included offense of reckless driving, and he self-reported the violation to his community corrections case officer. On September 5, 2013, the trial court conducted a hearing on the revocation of the defendant's probation. The defendant asked the court for leniency and promised to abide by all conditions set by the court if the court did not impose a fully-incarcerative sentence. Upon information provided by the trial court, defense counsel questioned the defendant about any additional charges he had received while on probation, and the defendant admitted that he had pleaded guilty to stalking his ex-wife in Warren County. The defendant explained that he did not realize that the conviction would affect his community corrections status.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court ruled as follows:

[The defendant] has had numerous opportunities to show the Court that he was a suitable candidate for probation. He was also given the extraordinary relief of serving through Community Corrections where he would get credit for his street time. However, even at that, he was unable to comply with requirements of Community Corrections by maintaining good and lawful conduct.
The Court is going to order that [the defendant] serve his sentence as initially imposed. The Court recognizes that he was sentenced as a Standard, 30 Percent Offender. The Court would anticipate based on the current processes of the Department of Corrections that he will receive not only credit for his time that he was on Community Corrections, but that he'll be released at some point by the Department of Corrections. And hope that he will take advantage of that opportunity to comply with good and lawful behavior and won't have to come back to court on a violation then.
But I think it's best to get this behind you . . . rather than putting you out in a position where you're liable to come back again after serving some period of time and then be ordered to serve your sentence. So, the Court finds based on the violation that you are to serve your sentence as initially imposed by the Court. . . .

On December 3, 2013, the defendant filed a motion for a suspended sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35 and Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-303. The trial court denied the motion on January 8, 2014, finding that it no longer had jurisdiction over the defendant's case because the defendant had already been transported to the Tennessee Department of Correction ("TDOC").

From this ruling, the defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by finding that it lacked jurisdiction on the basis of the defendant's transfer to TDOC. The defendant contends that this court ruling's in State v. Edenfield, 299 S.W.3d 344 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2009), which found that a defendant's location does not deprive a trial court of jurisdiction over a timely-filed Rule 35 motion, controls. The State concedes that, in light of the holding in Edenfield, the trial court erred by denying the defendant's motion. However, the State asserts that the defendant has waived the issue by failing to "bring the court's error to its attention, " citing Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 36(a) ("Nothing in this rule shall be construed as requiring ...

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