Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Drug Conviction Sent Back to County Court

An appeals court has reversed the prison term given to a Newark man for aggravated drug trafficking. The Fifth District Court of Appeals found that the trial court improperly considered pending felony charges against the defendant in an unrelated case as the basis for imposing a harsher sentence.

David S. Riggleman was sentenced by a Licking County Common Pleas Court judge in April 2013 to 12 months in prison for two counts of drug trafficking. At the time of the sentencing, the judge noted that because Riggleman had been charged with other crimes committed while he was out on bond, he would be sentenced to prison instead of community control.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals opinion states that none of the reasons the trial court gave for imposing the prison sentence are consistent with Ohio’s sentencing guidelines, which carried a presumption that Riggleman be sentenced to community control.

“The record does not indicate that appellant was ever convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony offense. The recent felony charge in the third degree … against appellant had yet to be resolved and therefore could not be used under the statute. The most serious charge against appellant at the time of sentencing was a felony in the fourth degree. The fact that appellant was sentenced to probation for pleading guilty to three misdemeanors in municipal court was not sufficient to disqualify R.C. 2929.13(B),” Judge Sheila G. Farmer wrote.

The court found that the trial court’s sentence violated Riggleman’s constitutional right to due process. Because of that, Judge Farmer, along with Judges John W. Wise and Patricia A. Delaney, reversed the sentence and sent Riggleman’s case back to Licking County for resentencing.

State v. Riggleman, 2013-Ohio-5006
Appeal From: Licking County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed and remanded
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: November 12, 2013

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