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Castle v. Commonwealth

Supreme Court of Kentucky

October 24, 2013

Arlen CASTLE, Appellant
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Kentucky, Appellee.

Page 755

Brandon Neil Jewell, Assistant Public Advocate, Counsel for Appellant.

Jack Conway, Attorney General of Kentucky, Susan Roncarti Lenz, Assistant Attorney General, Counsel for Appellee.

OPINION

MINTON, CHIEF JUSTICE.

Arlen Castle pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree robbery, one count of first-degree sodomy, one count of first-degree rape, one count of kidnapping, one count of first-degree sexual abuse, and one count of tampering with physical evidence. At sentencing, the trial court ordered Castle's sentences to be served consecutively, not to exceed sixty years. Castle appeals as a matter of right [1] from the resulting judgment.

On appeal, Castle alleges a single error. He contends that the trial court erred in ordering his sentences to be served consecutively because they exceeded fifty years in contravention of Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 532.110 and 532.080(6)(a). Finding no error, we affirm the sentence imposed by the trial court.

Page 756

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY.

Castle was indicted on charges of one count of each of the following crimes: first-degree robbery (Class B felony); first-degree sodomy (Class B felony); first-degree rape (Class B felony); kidnapping (Class B felony); first-degree sexual abuse (Class D felony); and tampering with physical evidence (Class D felony).[2] The charges all arose from Castle's robbery of a Cash Advance store in Danville, Kentucky. After his indictment, Castle entered an open guilty plea [3] to all charges. Following his guilty plea, the trial court sentenced Castle to twenty years' imprisonment for each of the four Class B felonies and five years' imprisonment for both of the Class D felonies. Exercising its discretion, the trial court ordered that Castle's sentences were to run consecutively with the aggregate imprisonment not to exceed sixty years.

Before entry of the sentencing order, Castle argued that the maximum allowable aggregate sentence of consecutive indeterminate terms was fifty years. Finding this argument unpersuasive, the trial court acknowledged that Castle's consecutive sentences, in total, amounted to ninety years, that KRS 532.110(1)(c) capped consecutive indeterminate terms at a total of seventy years, and concluded that a total of sixty years was an appropriate aggregate sentence. The trial court entered a judgment consistent with these findings.

II. ANALYSIS.

Castle's lone argument on appeal attacks only the length of his sentence, not his convictions. He argues that the aggregate length of his consecutive sentences, sixty years, exceeds the statutory limits set forth by KRS 532.110 and 532.080. We disagree.

KRS 532.110 provides trial courts with discretion in determining whether defendants convicted of multiple crimes are to serve their sentences concurrently or consecutively. While KRS 532.110(2) establishes concurrent service as the default absent language to the contrary, trial courts are given the liberty to run the sentences consecutively if they so choose.[4] This discretion is not unfettered, however. KRS 532.110(1)(c) provides a limitation on the aggregate length of sentences to be consecutively served. The relevant portion of KRS 532.110 provides as follows:

(1) When multiple sentences of imprisonment are imposed on a defendant for more than one (1) crime, including a crime for which a previous sentence of probation or conditional discharge has been revoked, the multiple sentences shall run concurrently or ...

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