When a criminal defendant is convicted of multiple offenses, the trial court must determine whether each of those offenses constitute separate individual crimes. When they do, the trial court, at sentencing, must determine how to align the sentences for those individual convictions. Some circumstances require that sentences be served consecutively to each other. When not required, many circumstances may still exist under which a trial court has the discretion to impose sentences either consecutively or concurrently. In the recent case of State v. Hogg, M2012-00303-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 4-16-2013), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a trial court’s determination of numerous separate individual offenses and consecutive sentences leading to a total effective sentence of 174 years (132 of them to be served at 100%), arising out of a single sex encounter with a minor.
In the Hogg case, the Defendant video recorded the encounter with the fourteen-year old male victim. Because he created multiple individual videos from that recording, he was convicted of multiple counts of aggravted sexual exploitation of a minor (production of child pornography). Due to multiple individual sex acts which occurred during that encounter, the Defendant was convicted of multiple counts of aggravated statutory rape. And because the Defendant was HIV positive, and each of the separate acts created an increased risk of transmission of HIV, the Defendant was convicted of multiple counts of exposing the victim to HIV. On appeal, the Defendant argued that the incident in question was one single continuous incident of criminal conduct, rather than multiple separate crimes. However, the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the State and the trial court that it was indeed multiple separate crimes.
Because the multiple offenses involved the sexual abuse of a minor, the trial court had the discretion to impose the sentences consecutively. The trial court did just that. Though the longest individual sentence was only 12 years, the trial court imposed most of the separate sentences consecutive with each other, for a total effective sentence of 174 years, with 132 of those years to be served at 100% before release eligibility. The trial court made the determination that that total effective sentence was justified by the circumstances of the offense. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that the trial court was within its discretion in making that conclusion.
For more information on dealing with multiple offenses in a criminal case, contact Hindman & Associates.