R.C. 2929.14(B) Interpretation

In State v. Profanchik, Mahoning App. No. 06-MA-143, 2007 Ohio 6430, the offender pled guilty to burglary and possession of cocaine. Id. at P1. Thereafter, at the sentencing hearing, the trial court deviated from the minimum sentence on both of the offender's counts without making any reference to R.C. 2929.14(B). Id. at P15. However, in its judgment entry of sentence, the court stated the following: "The Court further finds pursuant to R.C. 2929.14(B) that the shortest prison term possible will demean the seriousness of the offense AND will not adequately protect the public and therefore imposes a greater term." Id. at P16. In remanding the case back to the trial court for resentencing, the court determined that "the trial court erred by citing to and relying on R.C. 2929.14(B) in its judgment entries of sentence," and that "it is error and a violation of Foster to expressly cite and rely upon a statutory provision which was specifically found to be unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court." Id. at P23, 25. The court continued by noting that the "trial court specifically stated that pursuant to R.C. 2929.14(B) it found that the shortest prison term would demean the seriousness of the offense and would not adequately protect the public. This called into question whether the court followed the requirements of Foster." Id. at P25. In concluding, the court found that "had the trial court simply used this factor, the offender's sentence would not be in violation of Foster. However, because the court specifically cited to and relied upon the now excised R.C. 2929.14(B), the court's judgment entry reads in violation of the Foster holding." Id. at P26. In State v. Foster, 109 Ohio St.3d 1, 2006 Ohio 856, 845 N.E.2d 470, the Court found several sections of the revised code unconstitutional, including R.C. 2929.14(B), and severed the offending portions from the statutes. As a result, trial courts now have full discretion to impose a prison sentence within the statutory range and are no longer required to make findings or state reasons for imposing more than the minimum sentences. Foster, supra.