Allain v. State

In Allain v. State, 810 P.2d 1019, 1022 (Alaska App. 1991) the defendant challenged a special condition of probation requiring him to abstain from consuming alcohol. But the sentencing judge noted that "Allain has, by his own account, been drinking regularly since he was thirteen years old." The Court concluded that, under the circumstances, the superior court "could reasonably have concluded that Allain's chances for successfully addressing his problems with immaturity, anger, and impulsiveness could be enhanced by eliminating the potential distraction and complication that might be posed if Allain developed an incipient problem with alcohol abuse." Under those circumstances, The Court held that the judge did not abuse his discretion when he determined that the special condition related to alcohol was reasonably related to the goal of rehabilitation. The Court concluded that the double jeopardy clause allows a sentencing court to alter the defendant's sentences on the remaining counts, so long as the defendant's new sentences do not exceed the composite term that the defendant originally received. The defendant in Allain received two separate convictions and sentences for sexual abuse of a minor, with each conviction based on the same episode of sexual contact. On the first of these counts, the superior court sentenced Allain to 3 years' imprisonment with 2 years suspended. On the second count, the superior court sentenced Allain to a consecutive term of 3 years, with all 3 years suspended. In other words, Allain received a composite sentence of 6 years with 5 years suspended -- 1 year to serve. On appeal, Allain contended that it was improper for the superior court to enter separate judgements on these two counts -- that the jury's verdicts would support only one conviction and one sentence. The State conceded error. The Court then had to decide what remedy was appropriate for this legal error. The State argued that, even though the judgement would have to be amended to reflect only one conviction and sentence, "the sentencing judge should be authorized to impose a new sentence that does not exceed the composite term of six years with five years suspended originally imposed as to Counts I and II." Allain took the position that any increase in his sentence on the single count would be barred by the double jeopardy clause and by the due process clause. After considering this issue, the Court concluded that "the state's position is meritorious and Allain's constitutional claims are unpersuasive". "As a matter of federal constitutional law, it appears clear that resentencing on the remaining count is barred neither by double jeopardy nor by the due process prohibition against vindictiveness. See, e.g., Pennsylvania v. Goldhammer, 474 U.S. 28, 106 S.Ct. 353, 88 L.Ed.2d 183 (1985); United States v. Pimienta-Redondo, 874 F.2d 9 (1st Cir. 1989) (en banc)." (Allain, 810 P.2d at 1021.) The Court recognized that it was "conceivable that the more stringent protections of Alaska's double jeopardy and due process clauses might afford Allain shelter against resentencing in some circumstances, even though resentencing would not be barred by the United States Constitution." But under the circumstances of Allain's case, we concluded that the Alaska Constitution did not bar an increase in Allain's remaining sentence. The Court explained that "two factors were pivotal to our decision": "First, the dismissal of Count I in this case results from its merger with Count II and does not in any way implicate the legitimacy of the jury's factual determination that Allain was guilty of the conduct originally chargedin Count I. Given the merger of Counts I and II, Count II now comprehends the totality of the conduct for which Allain was originally sentenced. Because the merger of Counts I and II was precisely the relief that Allain sought in bringing this appeal, he cannot be heard to complain that double jeopardy precludes the imposition of a new sentence that takes into account the expanded scope of the conduct now included in that count." Allain, 810 P.2d at 1021-22. "Second, Allain's sentencing judge made it abundantly clear at the original sentencing hearing that he viewed Allain's convictions as essentially a single episode of criminal misconduct and that, while he elected to use consecutive sentences, his aim was to fashion a composite term appropriate for the totality of Allain's conduct. Given the judge's remarks, it is apparent that the judge's selection of a partially suspended term on Count I and a completely suspended term on Count II was wholly fortuitous. It is further evident that the judge deemed the total term of six years with five years suspended to be appropriate as a total sentence, regardless of whether that sentence was implemented by means of consecutive or concurrent sentences." Allain, 810 P.2d 1022. For these reasons, the Court concluded that the superior court was authorized to re-sentence Allain to a modified term of imprisonment on the remaining count, so long as that new sentence did not exceed the composite sentence originally imposed. (Id. at 1022.)