Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs April 24, 2018
from the Criminal Court for Sullivan County No. S66911,
S67168 R. Jerry Beck, Judge
Michael C. Carter, was charged via presentment with one count
of failure to appear, one count of being a habitual traffic
offender, one count of failure to provide law enforcement
evidence of financial responsibility, one count of operating
a motor vehicle on a public road with a false registration,
and one count of failure to dim headlights within 500 feet of
an oncoming vehicle. Defendant pled guilty and was sentenced
to an effective sentence of four years in incarceration.
Defendant appeals to this Court, arguing that the trial court
improperly denied alternative sentencing. After a complete
review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; M. Tyler
Harrison, Assistant District Public Defender, for the
appellant, Michael C. Carter.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth
Anne Thompson, Senior Counsel; Barry P. Staubus, District
Attorney General; and Mitchell B. Watson, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Alan E. Glenn and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ.,
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE
September of 2016, Defendant was charged by the Sullivan
County Grand Jury with one count of felony failure to appear.
In November of 2016, the Sullivan County Grand Jury returned
a four-count presentment charging Defendant with one count of
being a habitual traffic offender, one count of failure to
provide law enforcement evidence of financial responsibility,
one count of operating a motor vehicle on a public road with
a false registration, and one count of failure to dim
headlights within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle. On April
7, 2017, Defendant entered guilty pleas to all five counts,
leaving the manner of service and length of the sentence for
the determination of the trial court. The transcript of the
guilty plea hearing does not appear in the record on appeal.
sentencing hearing, Defendant sought an alternative sentence.
Defendant testified that he was sixty-three years of age and
that it had been six years since he had a criminal
conviction. Defendant admitted that he used to have a problem
"drinking beer" but that he quit drinking because
it "tormented everybody [he] was associated with . . .
disrupted [his family], [and] cost [him] money" as well
as "jail time." Defendant admitted that he had a
significant criminal history and that he failed to complete a
probationary sentence in the past because his wife was having
surgery and he missed a weekend in jail. As a result of
the violation, Defendant served 128 days in incarceration.
Defendant explained that he was plagued by a bevy of health
problems, including one herniated disc in his neck, two
herniated discs in his lower back, a bad hip, restless leg
syndrome, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Defendant
had open heart surgery seven years prior to the sentencing
hearing. Defendant admitted that he experimented with
marijuana in high school but that he did not like it so he
discontinued using it. Defendant asked the trial court for a
"chance" to prove "that [he] can do right and
[he's] been doing right." Defendant admitted that he
picked up a charge for failure to appear in court while the
charges were pending because he "wrote [the date] down
on the calendar wrong."
trial court acknowledged that Defendant had a "long
record" coupled with a "long history of his own
admission of beer use" and that Defendant continued to
accumulate more convictions as he aged. The trial court
commented that Defendant was definitely getting older but it
did not appear he was getting "much wiser." The
trial court noted Defendant had three prior felonies
including a grand larceny, a failure to appear, and a
conviction for being a habitual traffic offender. However,
the trial court noted that the plea agreement called for
Defendant to be sentenced as a Range I offender. The trial
court noted that the failure to appear and habitual traffic
offender sentences were mandatorily consecutive and ordered
Defendant to serve his effective four-year sentence in
incarceration. The trial court commented it was difficult to
"be confident that [Defendant] would not be in further
trouble" and that Defendant presented a
"danger" to the community.
filed a timely notice of appeal.
appeal, Defendant challenges the trial court's denial of
an alternative sentence. Specifically, Defendant claims the
trial court abused its discretion by failing to properly
apply the ...