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State of Montana v. Shawn Michael Brooks

November 20, 2012

STATE OF MONTANA, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE,
v.
SHAWN MICHAEL BROOKS, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DC 11-0107 Honorable Mary Jane Knisely, Presiding Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael E Wheat

November 20 2012

Submitted on Briefs: September 19, 2012

Filed:

Clerk

Justice Michael E Wheat delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶1 Shawn Michael Brooks (Brooks) appeals from the judgment of the District Court for the Thirteenth Judicial District, Yellowstone County, sentencing him to a four-year suspended commitment to the Department of Corrections (DOC) and imposing a number of sentencing conditions. Specifically, Brooks appeals the sentencing requirement that he register as a violent offender. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

¶2 On February 25, 2011, Brooks was charged with felony arson for setting fire to a car and two dumpsters in Billings, Montana. Brooks and the State entered into a plea agreement in which the State agreed to recommend a six-year suspended sentence at the DOC, plus restitution, in exchange for Brooks' guilty plea. The District Court accepted Brooks' plea, and ordered a presentence investigation report (PSI) prior to sentencing. The PSI details Brooks' criminal history, which dates back to 1989 and involves several misdemeanor and felony offenses. The PSI also sets forth Brooks' battle with alcoholism. It describes Brooks as a recovering alcoholic who in recent times would drink two or three times a week, consuming as much as a fifth of whiskey at each setting. Brooks admitted that he drinks to excess, and he associates drinking with his legal and financial problems. He reported that he completed an inpatient chemical dependency program in Missouri approximately eleven years ago, and remained sober for about eighteen months after. Jeff Snell (Snell), the probation and parole officer who completed Brooks' PSI, recommended the District Court follow the plea agreement and impose several sentencing conditions, including that Brooks register as a violent offender as required by Montana's Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Act (SVORA).

¶3 The District Court held a sentencing hearing for Brooks on June 30, 2011. At the hearing, Brooks' counsel recommended a three-year DOC sentence, all suspended. Counsel assured the District Court that Brooks was remorseful for his actions, and argued the crime was alcohol-fueled and a result of his "ang[er] at the world." Brooks' counsel further maintained that Brooks had "cleaned up" since his release from jail, and anticipated he would "continue on his endeavor to maintain his sobriety." Brooks' counsel additionally objected to the PSI's probationary condition that required Brooks register as a violent offender, arguing the condition violates his constitutional right to privacy. The State objected to Brooks' constitutional argument and recommended a six-year suspended DOC commitment and an order that Brooks pay $1600 in restitution.

¶4 The District Court sentenced Brooks to a four-year suspended DOC commitment, and required him to pay the $1600 in restitution. It further imposed the recommended probationary conditions, including that Brooks register as a violent offender. The District Court also ordered that Brooks complete anger management classes, as well as chemical dependency and mental health evaluations.

¶5 Brooks raises one issue on appeal, which we restate as follows:

ΒΆ6 Did the District Court's sentencing condition requiring that Brooks register as a violent offender violate his ...


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