State v. Nauman

State v. Nauman, 2014 MT 248 (Sept. 16, 2014) (5-0) Wheat, J.

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by departing from the plea agreement without giving Nauman the opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea; (2) whether the district court erred by imposing particular conditions on Nauman’s sentence; and (3) whether the term “pornography” in condition 31 of Nauman’s sentence is unconstitutionally vague.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) no; and (3) the Court declines to address this issue as it was not raised before the district court.

Reversed in part & affirmed in part

Facts: In 2001, Nauman was convicted of felony sexual assault for molesting a 12-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended upon conditions, and required to register as a sexual offender.

Nauman registered with the Kalispell police upon his release from prison in 2010, but failed to notify them of his move to a new address in 2011 and was charged with failure to register. He entered into a (1)(b) plea agreement with the state, which agreed to recommend a suspended sentence of three years to the DOC. The parties agreed to waive an updated presentence investigation and rely on the one prepared in 2001. The state agreed to recommend the probation conditions recommended in the PSI and agreed that Nauman could argue against them.

Procedural Posture & Holding: Nauman objected to eight of the probation conditions recommended by the 2001 PSI. Following two hearings, hte district court sentenced Nauman to prison, not to the DOC as agreed, for three years, all suspended, and imposed all probation conditions objected to by Nauman. Nauman appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms in part and reverses in part.

Reasoning: (1) A court rejecting a (1)(b) plea agreement must give the defendant the chance to withdraw his plea. Zunick, 2014 MT 239. Here, the Court indicated it was accepting the plea agreement but sentenced Nauman to prison instead of the DOC. The Court has previously held that commitment to MSP is a more severe sentence than commitment to the DOC, and therefore holds that the Court should have given Nauman an opportunity to withdraw his plea.

(2) Probation conditions must have a nexus to the underlying offense or to the offender. Here, the district court properly based its conditions on Nauman’s history and patterns of conduct. Nauman’s 2001 conviction was relevant to his sentencing for failure to register because his behavior while on probation indicates he has a propensity to re-offend.