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Faulkner v. Larson

Supreme Court of Montana

June 4, 2019



         Self-represented Petitioner Maxwell Lee Faulkner has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that his sentence violates his right to be free from double jeopardy. He is currently incarcerated in the Missoula County Detention Facility. We amend the caption to include the Missoula County Sheriff. Section 46-22-20l(1)(c), MCA.

         Faulkner explains that he was adjudicated a delinquent youth and placed on probation until the age of 25. At that time, he was given an "adult sentence"-a deferred sentence of six years. Faulkner argues that he now has been given a longer term of imprisonment and that his sentence is illegal. He requests his immediate release or a reduction of his sentence. Faulkner attaches an incomplete copy of a Fifth Petition to Revoke in Missoula County District Court Cause No. DJ-09-118.

         We requested a copy of the District Court's case register or docket. In December 2018, the County Attorney filed a Sixth Petition to Revoke in Faulkner's underlying proceeding. The twenty-five page petition and supporting documents provide Faulkner's history, his prior sentences upon revocation, and recent violations. The evidentiary hearing was re-scheduled, and the court has not yet issued an order.

         The records show that in June 2011, Faulkner admitted that he had violated the terms of his Extended Jurisdiction sentence and the conditions of his deferred imposition of sentence for theft (Count I), criminal mischief (Count II), and criminal endangerment (Count III). Faulkner's sentence in the underlying proceeding has been revoked several times. At first, the sentence was revoked and re-imposed. In 2012, the Missoula County District Court revoked his previous sentences. The court sentenced Faulkner to Montana State Prison for ten years on each count, suspending seven years of the sentence imposed on Count II and the entirety of the sentences imposed on Counts I and III. The court ordered Count I to run consecutively to Count II, and Count III to run consecutively to Count I. In 2014, the court revoked Faulkner's previous sentence and imposed a suspended ten-year prison sentence on Count I, a seven-year term with two years suspended on Count II, and a suspended ten-year prison term for Count III. All terms were to run concurrently. In 2018, Faulkner's sentence was revoked again. He received new suspended sentences of ten years on Count I; two years on Count II; and three years on Count III. All sentences were to run consecutively to each other and to a sentence from Cascade County.

         Faulkner does not have an illegal sentence because a court's revocation of a sentence does not violate double jeopardy. This Court has stated as much before.

[R]evocation of a suspended sentence based upon violations of probationary conditions and reinstatement of the original sentence does not violate a person's constitutional rights against double jeopardy, although a court is limited to the parameters of the sentence imposed in the initial sentence and credit must be allowed for time already served in a detention center.

State v. Dewitt, 2006 MT 302, ¶ 10, 334 Mont. 474, 149 P.3d 549 (internal citations and statutory references omitted). First, Faulkner's sentence upon revocation is not based on the six-year term of his initial deferred imposition of sentence. Section 46-18-203(7)(a), MCA, specifies the court's options when an offender has violated the conditions of a deferred sentence. Section 46-18-203(7)(a)(iv) allows the court, "if the sentence was deferred, [to] impose any sentence that may have been originally imposed." The maximum penalty for each of Faulkner's crimes is a ten-year prison term and a fine of $50, 000, or both. The 2012 sentence on revocation was within the authority of this statute.

         Second, in 2014 and again in 2018, Faulkner was required to serve only the remaining re-imposed terms after the District Court found that he violated the terms of his probation. The court imposed a sentence within its statutory authority.

         Finally, once the District Court issues an Order on the pending Petition to Revoke, Faulkner will have another sentence upon revocation. Section 46-18-203(7)(b)(iii), MCA.

         Faulkner has not demonstrated a prima facie case for habeas corpus relief. See Miller v. Eleventh Jud. Dist. Ct, 2007 MT 58, ¶ 14, 336 Mont. 207, 154 P.3d 1186. Faulkner is not entitled either to immediate release or to a sentence reduction. Moreover, although he retains a right of appeal, Faulkner cannot seek habeas corpus relief from a sentence upon revocation. Section 46-22-101(2), MCA, provides in part: "The relief under this chapter is not available to attack the legality of an order revoking a suspended or deferred sentence."

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Faulkner's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED.

         The Clerk of the Supreme Court is directed to provide a copy of this Order to the Honorable John Larson, Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County; to Sheriff T.J. McDermott, Missoula County Sheriffs Office; to Shirley E. Faust, Clerk of District Court, Missoula County, under Cause ...

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