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Post Release Supervision After A Determinate Sentence Is Completed And Defendant Released

People v. Darrel Williams et al.

New York Court of Appeals Sip Op 01527 [14 N.Y.3d 198]

Decided February 23, 2010

Issue : Whether there are statutory of constitutional impediments to imposing postrelease supervision at resentencing on defendants who have completed their terms of imprisonment and been released in to the community.

Held : the Defendants’ release from incarceration erected a Double Jeopardy Clause barrier to any subsequent upward modifications of their original sentences. The sentences are beyond the court’s authority and an additional term of PRS may not be imposed. The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits a court form resentencing the defendant to the mandatory term of PRS after the defendant has served the determinate term of imprisonment and has been released from confinement by DOCS.

As a general principle a sentence cannot be changed once a defendant begins to serve it; however, this applies only if the sentence is in accordance with the law (CPL 430.10).

Penal Law § 70.45 directs that postrelease supervision is a mandatory component of all determinate prison sentences. A sentencing court’s failure to pronounce postrelease supervision during sentencing proceedings results in an illegal sentence that cannot be administratively corrected by the Department of Correctional Services.

Penal Law § 70.85 specifies that in cases where PRS was required but not explicitly pronounces at sentencing, the matter may be returned for resentencing pursuant to Correction Law § 601-d and the court may decide to reimpose the original determinate sentence without PRS only on consent of the district attorney.

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment figured prominently into the Court of Appeals’ decision. This Clause states that no person shall be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb. The United States Supreme Court has construed this language to cover three distinct protections: (1) the right to be free from a second trial following an acquittal for the same crime; (2) the right to be free from a second trial following a conviction for the same offense; and (3) the right not to be punished more than once for the same crime United States v. DiFrancesco , 449 U.S. 117 (1980). The third category, referred to as the multiple punishments doctrine, is relevant in these cases.

A reasonable expectation of finality arises upon completion of the imposed sentence, resulting in the attachment of jeopardy precluding resentencing. Once a defendant fully serves a sentence the Double Jeopardy clause’s bar on multiple punishments prevents any attempt to increase thereafter a sentence for that crime, which includes attaching a PRS component to the original completed sentence.

Facts : in this case there were five defendants who raised a variety of statutory and constitutional issues regarding resentencing under Correction Law §601-d. In each case the defendants received determinate sentences that did not include a term of PRS. The defendants did not seek reversal of their convictions because they had completed their originally imposed prison sentences and have been released from custody.