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People v. Thomas

Supreme Court of Colorado. En Banc
Jul 29, 1974
185 Colo. 395 (Colo. 1974)

Summary

holding that where the defendant sought postconviction relief during the pendency of his appeal, "amendatory legislation mitigating the penalties for crimes should be applied to any case which has not received final judgment"

Summary of this case from People v. Hamm

Opinion

No. 26174

Decided July 29, 1974. Rehearing denied September 9, 1974.

Defendant, who was convicted of attempted burglary, appeals denial of his motion for postconviction review of sentence pursuant to 1971 Perm. Supp., C.R.S. 1963, 40-1-510(1)(f).

Reversed

1. CRIMINAL LAWSentence — Postconviction Review — Before Conviction Final — Jurisdiction — Relief. Where defendant filed his motion for postconviction review of sentence before his conviction had become final, held, under these circumstances, court had jurisdiction to entertain his motion for relief.

2. Sentence — Reduction — Attempted Burglary — Statute — Changed Legal Standards — Before Conviction. The statute, 1971 Perm. Supp., C.R.S. 1963, 40-1-510(1)(f), which expressly provides for the application of changed legal standards was especially appropriate where a change in the law reducing the sentence for attempted burglary intervened before defendant's conviction was had and sentence imposed.

3. Amendatory Legislation — Mitigating Penalties — Support — Common Law. The view that amendatory legislation mitigating the penalties for crimes should be applied to any case which has not received final judgment finds substantial support in the common law.

4. Sentence — Reduction — Attempted Burglary — Trial Court — Refusal — Changed Standard — Error. Where trial court refused to apply legal standard imposing reduced sentence for attempted burglary upon defendant's motion for postconviction review of sentence of imprisonment of not less than eight and one-half nor more than ten years for attempted burglary imposed on August 21, 1972, when statute reducing penalty for attempted second-degree burglary to not less than one nor more than five years' imprisonment became effective on July 1, 1972, held, in so refusing, trial court committed reversible error.

Appeal from the District Court of Cheyenne County, Honorable John C. Statler, Judge.

John P. Moore, Attorney General, John E. Bush, Deputy, Gregory L. Williams, Assistant, for plaintiff-appellee.

Rollie R. Rogers, State Public Defender, James F. Dumas, Jr., Chief Deputy, Thomas M. Van Cleave III, Deputy, for defendant-appellant.


Lester Thomas appeals the denial of his motion for post-conviction review of sentence pursuant to 1971 Perm. Supp., C.R.S. 1963, 40-1-510(1)(f). We reverse.

Appellant was charged with attempted burglary under 1967 Perm. Supp., C.R.S. 1963, 40-3-5, and 1967 Perm. Supp., C.R.S. 1963, 40-25-1. On July 13, 1972, he was convicted by a jury of this offense, and on August 21, 1972, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than eight and one-half nor more than ten years.

Appellant filed notice of appeal from this judgment of conviction on September 8, 1972. While his appeal was pending, appellant, on June 12, 1973, filed his motion in the trial court for post-conviction review of sentence. As amended April 19, 1973, the statute authorizes post-conviction review where it is alleged:

"That there has been a significant change in the law, applied to appellant's conviction or sentence, allowing in the interests of justice retroactive application of the changed legal standard." Colo. Sess. Laws 1973, ch. 152, 40-1-510(1)(f) at 533.

The basis of appellant's motion for relief was that section 40-2-101(4) and 40-4-203 of the Colorado Criminal Code, which became effective July 1, 1972, reclassified attempted second-degree burglary as a class five felony and under section 40-1-105 of the code the penalty was reduced to not less than one nor more than five years.

[1] This case is not controlled by People v. Herrera, 183 Colo. 155, 516 P.2d 626. In Herrera we held that once an appellant has exhausted his appellate remedy of appeal and his conviction has become final, the trial court is without jurisdiction to entertain a motion for post-conviction review of sentence. In the instant case, however, appellant filed his motion before his conviction had become final. The court therefore had jurisdiction to entertain his motion for relief.

The record reflects the court conducted an evidentiary hearing. The defense presented evidence showing appellant had been a model prisoner. The prosecution introduced evidence showing several prior felony convictions. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court determined that the interests of justice would not be served by application of the changed legal standards. We disagree.

[2] The legislature intended the changed legal standards to apply wherever constitutionally permissible. The amendment to the savings clause of the Criminal Code makes this clear. 1971 Perm. Supp., C.R.S. 1963, 40-1-103(2), provided:

"The provisions of this Code do not apply to or govern the construction of, prosecution for, and punishment for any offense committed prior to July 1, 1972, or the construction and application of any defense to a prosecution for such an offense. Such an offense shall be tried and disposed of according to the provisions of law existing at the time of the commission thereof in the same manner as if this code had not been enacted."

Effective April 19, 1973, this section was amended to read: "Except as otherwise expressly provided by section 40-1-510, the provisions of this code do not apply to or govern the construction of, prosecution for, and punishment for any offense committed prior to July 1, 1972, * * *." (Emphasis added.) Colo. Sess. Laws 1973, ch. 152, 40-1-103(2) at 533. Section 40-1-510(1)(f) expressly provides for the application of the changed legal standards. This is especially appropriate where a change in the law reducing the sentence intervenes before conviction is had and sentence is imposed, as in the present case.

[3] The view that amendatory legislation mitigating the penalties for crimes should be applied to any case which has not received final judgment finds substantial support in the common law. See In re Estrada, 63 Cal.2d 740, 48 Cal. Rptr. 172, 408 P.2d 948; People v. Odom, 8 Ill. App. 3d 227, 289 N.E.2d 663; People v. Oliver, 1 N.Y.2d 152, 151 N.Y.S.2d 367, 134 N.E.2d 197; State v. Pardon, 272 N.C. 72, 157 S.E.2d 698; Belt v. Turner, 25 Utah 2d 230, 479 P.2d 791.

[4] In view of the legislative intent to effectuate uniformity wherever possible, the trial court erred in refusing to apply the changed legal standard. Accordingly, on remand, the court should resentence in accordance with section 40-1-105 of the Criminal Code.

Judgment reversed and cause is remanded for resentencing.

MR. JUSTICE HODGES, MR. JUSTICE LEE, and MR. JUSTICE ERICKSON dissent.


Summaries of

People v. Thomas

Supreme Court of Colorado. En Banc
Jul 29, 1974
185 Colo. 395 (Colo. 1974)

holding that where the defendant sought postconviction relief during the pendency of his appeal, "amendatory legislation mitigating the penalties for crimes should be applied to any case which has not received final judgment"

Summary of this case from People v. Hamm

holding that "amendatory legislation mitigating the penalties for crimes should be applied to any case which has not received final judgment"

Summary of this case from People v. Trujillo

construing the predecessor to section 18-1-410(f) and noting that applying changed legal standards is "especially appropriate" when a change in the law reducing a defendant’s sentence intervenes before "conviction is had and sentence is imposed"

Summary of this case from People v. Cali

allowing retroactive application of ameliorative statutory amendments under section 18–1–410(f)

Summary of this case from People v. Stellabotte

relying upon both an express statement of legislative intent and the common law

Summary of this case from Greene v. State

interpreting statute providing for post-conviction review when "there has been a significant change in the law, applied to appellant's conviction or sentence, allowing in the interests of justice retroactive application of the changed legal standard" as permitting application of changed legal standards "wherever constitutionally permissible"

Summary of this case from Holiday v. U.S.

In Thomas, the defendant was sentenced on August 21, 1972, for an offense which at the time of its commission was classified as a class four felony.

Summary of this case from Riley v. People

In People v. Thomas, 185 Colo. 395, 525 P.2d 1136 (1974), this court held that a defendant is entitled to the benefit of amendatory sentencing legislation as long as he files a motion seeking such relief before his conviction becomes final.

Summary of this case from People v. Montgomery

In People v. Thomas, 185 Colo. 395, 525 P.2d 1136, 1137 (1974), we noted that, "the legislature intended the changed legal standards to apply wherever constitutionally permissible."

Summary of this case from People v. Lake

In People v. Thomas, 185 Colo. 395, 525 P.2d 1136 (1974), we held that a defendant was entitled to the benefit of amendatory legislation which became effective at any time before the conviction became final on appeal.

Summary of this case from People v. Griswold

In Thomas, we said a defendant whose conviction has not become final is entitled to the benefits of amendatory legislation mitigating the penalty for the crime of which he was convicted.

Summary of this case from McClure v. Dist. Ct.

In Thomas, the supreme court held that where the defendant filed his motion for application of the newly revised criminal statute before his conviction became final, "[t]he court therefore had jurisdiction to entertain his motion for relief."

Summary of this case from People v. Pennington

noting that "[t]he legislature intended the changed legal standards to apply wherever constitutionally permissible" but making no mention of whether the amendatory legislation reclassifying attempted second degree burglary explicitly stated that it applied retroactively

Summary of this case from People v. Trujillo

In Thomas, the court applied this doctrine to give a convicted defendant the benefit of a statute enacted eight months after his sentencing while his appeal was pending.

Summary of this case from People v. Boyd
Case details for

People v. Thomas

Case Details

Full title:The People of the State of Colorado v. Lester Thomas

Court:Supreme Court of Colorado. En Banc

Date published: Jul 29, 1974

Citations

185 Colo. 395 (Colo. 1974)
525 P.2d 1136

Citing Cases

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