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State v. Garcia

Supreme Court of West Virginia

January 5, 2018

State of West Virginia, Plaintiff Below, Respondent
v.
Loren Garcia, Defendant Below, Petitioner

         Randolph County 13-F-71

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

         Petitioner Loren Garcia, by counsel Jeremy B. Cooper, appeals the Circuit Court of Randolph County's September 14, 2016, order denying her motion to correct an allegedly illegal sentence. Respondent State of West Virginia, by counsel Sarah B. Massey, filed a response in support of the circuit court's order.

         This Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In 2013, petitioner was indicted on one count of child abuse resulting in bodily injury, one count of conspiracy, and one count of child neglect resulting in bodily injury. In April of 2014, petitioner entered into a plea agreement whereby she pled guilty to one count of child neglect resulting in bodily injury, in violation of West Virginia Code § 61-8D-4(a), in exchange for the dismissal of the other two charges. The factual basis for petitioner's guilty plea was that she allowed her husband to hit their children. The circuit court sentenced petitioner to one to three years of incarceration, required her to register with the child abuse registry, and imposed ten years of extended supervised release under West Virginia Code § 62-12-26.

         Petitioner was discharged from incarceration and began reporting to an intensive supervision officer as part of her extended supervision. In March of 2016, petitioner was arrested on robbery and related charges, prompting the State to seek revocation of her supervised release. Following an evidentiary hearing on the State's motion, the circuit court found petitioner to be in violation of the terms of her supervised release and sentenced her to serve three years of incarceration, followed by thirty years of extended intensive supervision under West Virginia Code § 62-12-26.

         Petitioner filed a motion under Rule 35(a) of the West Virginia Rules of Criminal Procedure, [1] arguing that "modification of her sentence to include a 30 year period of supervised release, and the associated exposure to three decades of incarceration . . . is in violation of [her] substantive due process rights under both the United States and West Virginia Constitutions." Petitioner contended that the enhanced deprivation of her liberty interest violated substantive due process because, as a non-sexual offender, the extended supervision does not bear a reasonable relationship to a proper legislative purpose and is arbitrary. Following a hearing, the circuit court denied petitioner's motion by order entered on September 14, 2016, ruling that West Virginia Code § 62-12-26 was unambiguous and that "the legislature was specific and protection of children in our state is a compelling state interest." This appeal followed.

         Discussion

         This Court has articulated the following standard of review for the denial of a Rule 35 motion:

In reviewing the findings of fact and conclusions of law of a circuit court concerning an order on a motion made under Rule 35 of the West Virginia Rules of Criminal Procedure, we apply a three-pronged standard of review. We review the decision on the Rule 35 motion under an abuse of discretion standard; the underlying facts are reviewed under a clearly erroneous standard; and questions of law and interpretations of statutes and rules are subject to a de novo review.

Syl. Pt. 1, State v. Head, 198 W.Va. 298, 480 S.E.2d 507 (1996). Additionally, we have held:

1. The constitutionality of a statute is a question of law which this Court reviews de novo.
2. "In considering the constitutionality of a legislative enactment, courts must exercise due restraint, in recognition of the principle of the separation of powers in government among the judicial, legislative and executive branches. Every reasonable construction must be resorted to by the courts in order to sustain constitutionality, and any reasonable doubt must be resolved in favor of the constitutionality of the legislative enactment in question. Courts are not concerned with questions relating to legislative policy. The general powers of the legislature, within constitutional limits, are almost plenary. In considering the constitutionality of an act of the legislature, the negation of legislative power must appear beyond reasonable doubt." Syllabus Point 1, State ex rel. Appalachian Power Co. v. Gainer, 149 W.Va. 740, 143 S.E.2d 351 (1965).

Syl. Pts. 1 and 2, State v. Rutherford, 223 W.Va. 1, 672 S.E.2d 137 (2008). With these standards in mind, we turn to ...


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