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State v. Buckles

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

May 30, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
SCOTTIE R. BUCKLES

          Assigned on Briefs March 21, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sullivan County Nos. S53994, S64790, S64791, S64792, S65165, S65164, S65426, S65061, S65362, S64789 R. Jerry Beck, Judge

         Defendant, Scottie R. Buckles, pled guilty in ten separate cases to a total of sixty-three separate offenses for which he received an effective sentence of fifteen years as a Range II, multiple offender. The trial court denied alternative sentencing after a hearing. Defendant appeals the denial of alternative sentencing on the basis that the trial court failed to consider whether Defendant should be sentenced under the special needs provision of the Community Corrections Act. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Jordan C. Pennington, Bristol, Virginia, for the appellant, Scottie R. Buckles.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Andrea N. Black, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE

         Between June of 2015 and October of 2015, the Sullivan County Grand Jury charged Defendant in ten separate cases with sixty-three different offenses, including: eight counts of aggravated burglary; two counts burglary; five counts of theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10, 000; one count of theft of property valued at $10, 000 or more but less than $60, 000; two counts of forgery; fourteen counts of theft of property valued at $500 or less; fifteen counts of identity theft; three counts of vandalism under $500; and thirteen counts of fraudulent use of a credit card. Defendant eventually pled guilty to all sixty-three counts, with the aggravated burglary offenses and theft of property valued at $10, 000 or more being reduced to the lesser-included offenses of burglary and theft of property valued at $1000.

         Without attempting to minimize the effect of the crimes on the individual victims, we choose not to discuss the individual facts and circumstance of each offense because the circumstances of the offenses are not necessarily relevant to the issues on appeal. We note that Defendant agreed to the factual basis for the plea agreement at the hearing wherein the State relied on affidavits of complaint and case summaries to form the basis for the guilty pleas. From our review of the record, it appears that Defendant often targeted people with whom he had an existing relationship and exploited his knowledge of them in order to steal things like checks, bank cards, jewelry, and electronics.

         The plea agreement specified that Defendant would receive an effective sentence of fifteen years as a Range II, multiple offender. Defendant received five years for each burglary conviction; five years for each conviction for theft of property valued over $1000 but less than $10, 000; five years for each conviction of identity theft; two years for each conviction of forgery; and eleven months and twenty-nine days for each conviction of vandalism under $500, theft of property under $500, and fraudulent use of a credit card. Within each individual case number, the trial court ordered the sentences to run concurrently to each other, for an effective sentence of five years for each case number. However, the trial court ordered the sentences in three cases to run consecutively, for a total effective sentence of fifteen years for the current convictions. Additionally, these sentences were ordered to be served consecutively to a ten-year sentence from a prior conviction, for which the trial court revoked Defendant's probation.[1] Including the revocation of probation, Defendant's effective sentence became twenty-five years. Defendant sought alternative sentencing.

         At the hearing on alternative sentencing, the trial court commented that Defendant pled guilty to "multiple, multiple offenses" with a total effective sentence of fifteen years as a Range II, multiple offender. Because Defendant had so many prior offenses, the trial court deemed it "very cumbersome to read them all, " and at one point commented on the need to "get energized for this [case]." The trial court noted that the offenses in this case were "nonviolent felonies" and misdemeanors, that Defendant's prior convictions were also "nonviolent, " and that Defendant attended two-and-a-half years of college and served for six years in the military. However, the trial court noted that Defendant used marijuana as his "drug of choice" and started using cocaine when he was twenty-five years of age. The trial court noted that Defendant assisted the police in the investigation and owed restitution to the victims in the amount of $13, 177. The trial court noted that it was "required to consider that ... the special needs and other things that can be accomplished in a residential community corrections program." The trial court ultimately denied alternative sentencing, specifically finding:

The Defendant has favorable factors, particularly his service in the United States Armed Services with an honorable discharge. The [c]ourt is also - and I recognize that - required to consider community corrections. And I recognize we have a community corrections center in Kingsport here called the John R. Hay House which is designed for drug abuse. And I recognize the Defendant has a serious problem with drug abuse.
Notwithstanding that, the [c]ourt, upon review of the Defendant's prior record, it is refrigerator size class. Then he has the new offenses that are refrigerator class. And when I say that, numerous convictions ...

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