Unless otherwise indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.
Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court
Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
State v. Campbell, No. W2022-01039-CCA-R3-CD, p. 4 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. April 17, 2023).
A trial court’s decision to grant or deny probation is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard with a presumption of reasonableness when the sentence reflects the purposes and principles of sentencing. State v. Caudle, 388 S.W.3d 273, 278-79 (Tenn. 2012). “[A] trial court’s decision to grant or deny probation will not be invalidated unless the trial court wholly departed from the relevant statutory considerations in reaching its determination.” State v. Sihapanya, 516 S.W.3d 473, 476 (Tenn. 2014) (order) (per curiam). The burden of establishing suitability for probation rests with a defendant, who must demonstrate that probation will “‘subserve the ends of justice and the best interest of both the public and the defendant.’” State v. Souder, 105 S.W.3d 602, 607 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2002) (quotingState v. Dykes, 803 S.W.2d 250, 259 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1990)); see Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-303(b); State v. Russell, 773 S.W.2d 913, 915 (Tenn. 1989); State v. Carter, 254 S.W.3d 335, 347 (Tenn. 2008).
State v. Robinson, No. M2021-01539-CCA-R3-CD, p. 5-6 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Sept. 2, 2022).
Our standard of review of the trial court’s sentencing determinations is whether the trial court abused its discretion, and we apply a “presumption of reasonableness to within- range sentencing decisions that reflect a proper application of the purposes and principles of our Sentencing Act.” State v. Bise, 380 S.W.3d 682, 707 (Tenn. 2012). The party challenging the sentence on appeal bears the burden of establishing that the sentence was improper. T.C.A. § 40-35-401 (2017), Sentencing Comm’n Cmts. In determining the proper sentence, the trial court must consider: (1) the evidence, if any, received at the trial and the sentencing hearing; (2) the presentence report; (3) the principles of sentencing and arguments as to sentencing alternatives; (4) the nature and characteristics of the criminal conduct involved; (5) evidence and information offered by the parties on the mitigating and enhancement factors set out in Tennessee Code Annotated sections 40-35-113 and –114; (6) any statistical information provided by the administrative office of the courts as to sentencing practices for similar offenses in Tennessee; (7) any statement the defendant made in the defendant’s own behalf about sentencing; and (8) the result of the validated risk and needs assessment conducted by the department and contained in the presentence report. See T.C.A. § 40-35-210; State v. Taylor, 63 S.W.3d 400, 411 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2001). The trial court must also consider the potential or lack of potential for rehabilitation or treatment of the defendant in determining the sentence alternative or length of a term to be imposed. T.C.A. § 40-35-103.
However, issues involving statutory construction present questions of law which are reviewed de novo with no presumption of correctness. Kampmeyer v. State, 639 S.W.3d 21, 23 (Tenn. 2022); State v. Keese, 591 S.W.3d 75, 78-79 (Tenn. 2019); State v. Gibson, 506 S.W.3d 450, 455 (Tenn. 2016);State v. Dycus. We determine legislative intent from the plain language of the statute, “read in context of the entire statute, without any forced or subtle construction which would extend or limit its meaning.” State v. Cauthern, 967 S.W.2d 726, 735 (Tenn. 1998) (quoting 940 S.W.2d 558, 561 (Tenn. 1997)). When a statute is plain and unambiguous, “we must apply its plain meaning in its normal and accepted use, without a forced interpretation that would limit or expand the statute’s application.” Davis v. State, 313 S.W.3d 751, 762 (Tenn. 2010); see also Keese, 591 S.W.3d at 79. In the event of a conflict, a more specific statutory provision takes precedence over a more general provision. S.W. 3d 615, 622 (Tenn. 2020); also Cauthern, 967 S.W.2d at 735. “Generally, statutes are presumed to apply prospectively in the absence of clear legislative intent to the contrary.” State v. Thompson, 151 S.W.3d 434, 442 (Tenn. 2004); Cauthern, 967 S.W.2d at 735. “The legislature may limit a new sentencing enactment to prospective application.” No. 01-C-019203-CR00098, 1992 WL 335937, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Nov. 18, 1992). Indeed, when construing a more recent statute in conjunction with pre-existing legislation, “we presume that the legislature has knowledge of its prior enactments and is fully aware of any judicial constructions of those enactments.” 313 S.W.3d at 762; 595 S.W. 3d at 62.
State v. Erwin, No. E2021-01232-CCA-R3-CD, p. 13 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Aug. 15, 2022).
The standard of review for questions related to probation or any other alternative sentence is an abuse of discretion with a presumption of reasonableness for within-range sentences reflecting a decision based upon the principles and purposes of sentencing. Caudle, 388 S.W.3d at 278-79. Generally, probation is available to a defendant sentenced to ten years or less. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-303(a) (2014). The burden of establishing suitability for an alternative sentence rests with a defendant, who must demonstrate that probation will “‘subserve the ends of justice and the best interest of both the public and the defendant.’” State v. Souder, 105 S.W.3d 602, 607 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2002) (quotingState v. Dykes, 803 S.W.2d 250, 259 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1990)); see Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-303(b); State v. Russell, 773 S.W.2d 913, 915 (Tenn. 1989); State v. Carter, 254 S.W.3d 335, 347 (Tenn. 2008).