Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Court of Appeals holds that CDR Code cannot trump provisions of statute

In State v. Bennett, Bennett was sentenced to four years in prison for distribution of crack cocaine and ordered to submit to community supervision (CSP) thereafter. Bennett violated his community supervision and was returned to prison on multiple occasions. At one CSP hearing, Bennett finally argued that S.C. Code § 44-53-375(B)(1), under which he was convicted does not provide for CSP. Thus, he should be released from CSP. The state countered that although the statute did not provide for CSP, because the CDR Code used did provide for CSP, the offense code controlled. The Court of Appeals ruled in Bennett's favor.

Because the South Carolina Code of Laws is the controlling authority for classifications, definitions and penalties for criminal offenses, a statute listed on a sentencing sheet, and not a CDR code, will dictate a criminal’s sentence. Therefore, we find Bennett was sentenced as a first offender. Bennett’s warrant, indictment, and sentencing sheet all list S.C. Code § 44-53-375(B)(1), indicating a first offense. The additional listing of the CDR code on Bennett’s sentencing sheet, indicating a second offense, may not trump the listed statute. Due to SCDOC’s erroneous interpretation of Bennett’s sentencing sheet, Bennett has served more than the original sentence of four years and should be released from CSP.

No comments: