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State v. Shields

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 30, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
JEFFERY CARL SHIELDS

          Assigned on Briefs December 13, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 18461 Franklin L. Russell, Judge

         Defendant, Jeffrey Carl Shields, pled guilty to one count of burglary and thirteen counts of forgery in exchange for a total effective sentence of twelve years as a Range II, multiple offender. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing and ordered Defendant to serve his sentence in incarceration. This appeal followed. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying an alternative sentence where Defendant was facing additional charges at the time of sentence and previous attempts at alternative sentencing had failed. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 2 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Donna Orr Hargrove, District Public Defender, and Michael J. Collins (on appeal) and Jackson A. Dearing, III (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Jeffery Carl Shields.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M. Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Robert J. Carter, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE

         In January of 2017, Defendant was indicted for one count of burglary, one count of theft of property valued under $500, and twenty-six counts of forgery. At the guilty plea hearing, the State recounted the factual basis for the pleas as follows:

[B]ack in April of last year, a Mr. James Williams, who I think is a, on the board or in the leadership of the Church of the Redeemer here in Bedford County reported that he had been made aware that a number of checks had been written on their church bank account that they did not authorize, and they'd all been cashed at Advance Financial.
An investigation was launched and it was determined that [Defendant] had been allowed to stay in the sanctuary. He was homeless, and they were allowing him to stay in the sanctuary. They also gave him a key that gave access to another portion of the church, so he could go to the restroom. [B]ut apparently he had gotten into a portion of the church he did not have permission to enter into and found the checkbook. And he took the checkbook or took checks from the checkbook and began cashing them at Advance Financial. I believe there's a total of 13 checks, that [ac]counts for the even number counts of the indictment.
[A]ll the checks were made payable to him. Of course, the church says they did not authorize those checks to be cashed. The police department investigated the matter, they interviewed [Defendant] and he admitted to taking the checks, filling them out, you know, making them payable to himself and cashing them at Advance Financial.

         Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, Defendant agreed to plead guilty to one count of burglary and thirteen counts of forgery in exchange for a sentence of eight years on the burglary conviction and a sentence of four years on each of the forgery convictions. The forgery sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to the burglary sentence, for a total effective sentence of twelve years at thirty-five percent. The trial court was to determine the manner of service of the sentence at a sentencing hearing.

         At the sentencing hearing, the State introduced the presentence report, detailing Defendant's criminal history, which started in the early 1990s. Defendant had convictions for theft of property, possession of prohibited weapons, accessory after the fact, driving with a suspended license, evading arrest, casual exchange, violation of the driver's license law, as well as a pending charge for possession of marijuana. Defendant admitted that he had received probation on two prior occasions and violated his probation. Defendant expressed remorse for having committed the crimes at issue and apologized to the trial court. At first, Defendant claimed that he stole the money from the church to support his family but ultimately admitted that he committed the crimes as a result of his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Defendant maintained ...


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