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State v. Maines

Supreme Court of North Dakota

November 20, 2019

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Jeremy Michael Maines, Defendant and Appellant

          Appeal from the District Court of Mountrail County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Douglas L. Mattson, Judge.

          Wade G. Enget, State's Attorney, Stanley, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.

          Ashley K. Schell, Fargo, ND, for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          McEVERS, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] Jeremy Maines appeals from the district court's amended criminal judgments and finding he is a habitual offender. We affirm.

         I

         [¶2] In April 2017, Maines was charged with robbery and theft of property. The State later charged Maines with four counts of terrorizing. The State filed notices alleging Maines was subject to imposition of an enhanced sentence as a habitual offender under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-09(2), based on prior felony convictions in the state of Washington. In July 2018, Maines plead guilty to robbery and four counts of terrorizing. On October 25, 2018, the district court held a hearing to determine whether Maines was a habitual offender under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-09(1)(c). The district court found Maines was a habitual offender because his prior convictions in Washington were felonies that occurred while he was an adult. The court sentenced Maines to 20 years with 8 years suspended for 5 years for the robbery charge. Maines was sentenced to 5 years on each count of the terrorizing charges, to run concurrently with each other and the previous sentence. On October 26, 2018, the court entered judgments consistent with the sentence. Maines appeals.

         II

         [¶3] Maines argues on appeal the district court abused its discretion by sentencing him as a habitual offender. Specifically, he claims his prior convictions are misdemeanors under North Dakota law and do not apply under the habitual offender statute.

         [¶4] "A district court has discretion in sentencing, and review of a sentence is generally limited 'to whether the court acted within the statutorily prescribed sentencing limits or substantially relied on an impermissible factor.'" State v. Clark, 2012 ND 135, ¶ 18, 818 N.W.2d 739 (quoting State v. Gonzalez, 2011 ND 143, ¶ 6, 799 N.W.2d 402). This Court reviews habitual offender proceedings under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-09 and the application of a sentence enhancement for an abuse of discretion. Clark, at ¶ 18. "A trial court abuses its discretion only when it acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or capricious manner, or misinterprets or misapplies the law." State v. Cain, 2011 ND 213, ¶ 16, 806 N.W.2d 597 (quoting State v. Carpenter, 2011 ND 20, ¶ 22, 793 N.W.2d 765).

         [¶5] To determine whether the district court abused its discretion in sentencing, we must look to the application of the habitual offender statute. "Statutory interpretation is a question of law, which this Court reviews de novo." Rice v. Neether, 2016 ND 247, ¶ 9, 888 N.W.2d 749. "In construing statutes, the specific controls the general." McKenzie Cty. v. Reichman, 2012 ND 20, ¶ 18, 812 N.W.2d 332; N.D.C.C. § 1-02-07.

         [¶6] Maines does not dispute he has prior convictions in Washington. Maines argues his prior convictions are misdemeanors under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-02(9) for the purpose of determining whether he was a habitual offender. N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-02(9) states:

A person who is convicted of a felony and sentenced to imprisonment for not more than three hundred sixty days is deemed to have been convicted of a misdemeanor. However, if an order is entered revoking a term of probation that was imposed as part of a sentence, the person is deemed to have been convicted of a felony.

         [¶7] Maines was convicted in Washington of second degree theft in 1994, and faced a maximum possible penalty of 5 years. Maines was sentenced to 60 days with 12 months of probation. Maines' second Washington conviction was in 1996 for second degree burglary, and the maximum penalty Maines could have faced was 10 years. Maines was sentenced to 9 months ...


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