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State v. Mehan

Supreme Court of Montana

April 30, 2019

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
DOUGLAS ALAN MEHAN, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: March 6, 2019

          Appeal From District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For the County of Cascade, Cause No. CDC 15-317 Honorable John A. Kutzman, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Lisa S. Korchinski, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Brad Fjeldheim, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Joshua Racki, Cascade County Attorney, Amanda Lofink, Deputy County Attorney, Great Falls, Montana

          OPINION

          Mike McGrath, Chief Justice.

         ¶1 In 2016, Douglas Alan Mehan pleaded guilty to Sexual Intercourse Without Consent, a felony. At sentencing, the Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County, imposed numerous conditions, including several restricting Mehan's contact with minors upon his release. Mehan objected to these conditions on the basis that they had no nexus to the underlying offense. The District Court declined to remove the conditions. Mehan appeals. We reverse and remand for correction of the sentence.

         ¶2 We restate the issue on appeal as follows:

Whether the conditions restricting Mehan's contact with minors have a sufficient nexus to Mehan or the underlying offense.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On June 12, 2015, Mehan raped an unconscious woman in the parking lot of a bar in Great Falls, Montana. The rape, and Mehan's interaction with the victim inside the bar, were recorded on the bar's surveillance cameras. On June 25, 2015, the State charged Mehan with Sexual Intercourse Without Consent, in violation of § 45-5-503, MCA. Mehan entered into a plea agreement with the State, pursuant to § 46-12-211(1)(b), MCA, and changed his plea to guilty. On January 18, 2017, the District Court accepted the plea agreement, designated Mehan as a Tier I sexual offender, and sentenced to him fifty years in the Montana State Prison with twenty-five years suspended.

         ¶4 Prior to sentencing, a Presentence Investigation Report (PSI) was prepared, which included sentencing condition recommendations for the District Court. At sentencing, the District Court imposed nearly all conditions recommended in the PSI, including those challenged on appeal, which restrict Mehan's contact with minors. Mehan objected, arguing the victim was not a minor and thus there was not a sufficient nexus between Mehan or his offense and the conditions protecting minors. The District Court overruled Mehan's objection, reasoning:

[I]t appears to me, from studying the charging affidavit and the reports of the two experts, that Mr. Mehan's view of what a reasonable woman would consent to has been informed and in a large degree distorted by his viewing of pornography. And that, to me, is the necessary nexus to keep ...

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