State v. Coles

In State v. Coles, 208 Wis. 2d 328, 559 N.W.2d 599 (Ct. App. 1997), the defendant was sentenced on one misdemeanor and two felony convictions. On the misdemeanor count the circuit court imposed a "time-served" 185-day sentence. On one of the felony counts, the court sentenced the defendant to eight years in prison, but did not indicate whether the sentence was to run consecutively or concurrently with the misdemeanor sentence. On the second felony count, the court sentenced the defendant to eight years, expressly stating that that sentence was to be consecutive to the other eight-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argued that the 185 days of "time-served" credit should be applied against the first felony sentence. He based his argument on cases holding that sentences are deemed to run concurrently in the absence of a statutory or judicial declaration to the contrary. See State v. Rohl, 160 Wis. 2d 325, 330, 466 N.W.2d 208 (Ct. App. 1991). He also relied on the provisions of Wis. Stat. 973.15(1), that all sentences are deemed to "commence at noon on the day of sentence." The Court rejected the argument. While the defendant's legal authorities were unimpeachable, we stated that "the law is not a science and the courtroom is not a laboratory," and went on to consider the circuit court's intent in imposing the sentences, noting that in cases where the court's sentencing intent is ambiguous, we will look to the entire record to determine that intent. Coles, 208 Wis. 2d at 333.