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State v. Cyr

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

May 14, 2019

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Appellant,
v.
JOHNNY RAY CYR, Respondent.

          MAXA, C.J.

         The State appeals Johnny Ray Cyr's 60-month sentence for his convictions under RCW 69.50.410(1) of three counts of sale of a controlled substance for profit, heroin.

         Under the drug sentencing grid in the Sentencing Reform Act (SRA), the standard range sentence for Cyr's conviction ordinarily would be 68 to 100 months. RCW 9.94A.517(1). But the violation of RCW 69.50.410(1) is a class C felony with a maximum sentence of 60 months. The State argues that the maximum sentence must be automatically doubled to 120 months under RCW 69.50.408(1), which states, "Any person convicted of a second or subsequent offense under [chapter 69.50 RCW] may be imprisoned for a term up to twice the term otherwise authorized." The State claims that because Cyr had a previous conviction under chapter 69.50 RCW, the trial court was required to sentence him within the SRA standard range.

         Cyr argues that the trial court had discretion whether to treat 60 months as the maximum sentence or to double the maximum sentence under RCW 69.50.408. In addition, RCW 69.50.410(2)(a) provides that a person convicted under RCW 69.50.410(1) "shall receive a sentence of not more than five years." Cyr claims that RCW 69.50.410(2)(a) limited Cyr's sentence to 60 months regardless of the RCW 69.50.408 doubling provision. The trial court agreed with Cyr that its sentencing authority was limited to 60 months.

         We hold that (1) because Cyr had a previous conviction under chapter 69.50 RCW, RCW 69.50.408 automatically doubled the maximum sentence and the trial court did not have discretion to treat 60 months as the maximum sentence; (2) the provision in RCW 69.50.410(2)(a) that the maximum sentence for Cyr's conviction was 60 months places a limitation on application of the SRA sentencing grid, but RCW 69.50.408 applies to double that maximum 60-month sentence; and (3) the trial court erred in ruling that Cyr's maximum sentence was 60 months and in failing to sentence Cyr within the SRA standard range. Accordingly, we vacate Cyr's sentence and remand for the trial court to exercise its discretion in sentencing Cyr within the standard range in light of the doubled statutory maximum of 120 months.

         FACTS

         The State charged Cyr with three counts of sale of a controlled substance for profit, heroin, in violation of RCW 69.50.410(1). Cyr pleaded guilty to all three counts. Cyr stipulated to an offender score of 5 and a criminal history that included a 2015 conviction for attempted possession of an imitation controlled substance, a violation of chapter 69.50 RCW.[1] Both parties apparently agreed that the SRA drug sentencing grid set the standard range for Cyr's offender score at 68 to 100 months. But if the doubling provision of RCW 69.50.408 did not apply, the statutory maximum sentence for Cyr's convictions was 60 months. This is because violation of RCW 69.50.410(1) is a class C felony with a maximum sentence of 60 months and because RCW 69.50.410(2)(a) limited the sentence to 60 months.

         The trial court acknowledged that the maximum sentence for Cyr's convictions under RCW 69.50.410(1) could be doubled under RCW 69.50.408. But the court determined that RCW 69.50.410(2)(a) directs courts to impose no more than 60 months for a first conviction of sale of a controlled substance for profit.[2] Therefore, on the judgment and sentence the court stated that the sentencing range for Cyr's convictions was 60 to 60 months and the maximum sentence was 60 months. The court sentenced Cyr to 60 months on each count, to run concurrently.

         The State appeals Cyr's sentence.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Standard Sentence Range Under the SRA

         The SRA contains sentencing grids that calculate a sentence range for offenders according to their offender score and the "seriousness level" of their offense. RCW 9.94A.510, .517. But "[t]he maximum term of confinement in a range may not exceed the statutory maximum for the crime as provided in RCW 9A.20.021." RCW 9.94A.506(3).

         RCW 9.94A.517 provides a special sentencing grid for drug offenders. The parties agreed that Cyr's offender score was 5. The sale of a controlled substance for profit, the crime defined in RCW 69.50.410(1), has a seriousness level of three. RCW 9.94A.518. Under the drug sentencing grid, a defendant with an offender score of 5 who is convicted of an offense with a seriousness level of three has a standard sentence range between 68 and 100 months. RCW 9.94A.517(1).

         However, selling a controlled substance for profit under RCW 69.50.410(1) - for which Cyr was convicted - is a class C felony. RCW 69.50.410(1). The maximum penalty for a class C felony under the SRA is five years confinement. RCW 9A.20.021(1)(c). The SRA accounts for the situation in which the standard sentence range exceeds the statutory maximum. See State v. Clark, 123 Wn.App. 515, 521, 94 P.3d 335 (2004). "If the presumptive sentence duration given in the sentencing grid exceeds the statutory maximum sentence for the offense, the statutory maximum sentence shall be the presumptive sentence." RCW 9.94A.599. Therefore, Cyr's presumptive sentence under the SRA would be 60 months rather than within the standard range of 68 to 100 months.

         B. Applicability of RCW 69.50.408 Doubling Provision

         The parties agree that Cyr had a previous conviction under chapter 69.50 RCW and therefore that RCW 69.50.408 potentially applies. The State argues that RCW 69.50.408 automatically doubles the statutory maximum when the defendant is convicted of a subsequent offense under chapter 69.50 RCW, and therefore that Cyr must be sentenced within the standard range. Cyr contends that ...


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