Hunsaker v. ColoradoAnnotate this Case
In 2006, a jury convicted William J. Hunsaker, Jr.,of sexual assault on a child (count I), a class 4 felony,and sexual assault on a child–pattern of abuse (count II), a class 3 felony. The trial court concluded that these offenses constituted "extraordinary risk crimes"under section 18-1.3-401(10), C.R.S. (2014).This resulted in indeterminate minimum sentencing ranges of two to eight years for count I and four to sixteen years for count II. In 2011, Hunsaker filed a motion to correct his sentences underCrim. P. 35(a) or, in the alternative, a motion to reduce his sentences under Crim. P. 35(b). He argued the two counts could not qualify as extraordinary risk crimes without an explicit finding of aggravating circumstances. The prosecution conceded that neither count qualified as an extraordinary risk crime but asserted only count I's sentence was illegal. The post-conviction court granted Hunsaker's Rule 35(a) motion. The prosecution appealed, and the court of appeals reversed. First, the court of appeals held that the mandatory sentencing statute, section 18-1.3-406, did not require the prosecution to establish aggravating circumstances where the defendant's conviction is for a sex offense that constitutes a crime of violence. Second, the court of appeals concluded that under section 16-12-102(1), C.R.S. (2014), the prosecution can appeal "any decision of a court in a criminal case upon any question of law." Third,the court of appeals held that if a court can correct an illegal sentence on a count merely by removing the excess time that rendered the sentence illegal, a defendant is not entitled to resentencing on other counts with legal sentences. Upon review, the Supreme Court held: (1) when a conviction for a sex offense requires sentencing in accordance with the mandatory sentencing statute, the prosecution is not required to prove aggravating circumstances to support a bottom-end sentence in the aggravated range; (2) the prosecution here was authorized to appeal the post-conviction court's ruling on the defendant's Rule 35(a) motion because it challenged the legal basis for the range the post-conviction court used to impose the sentence; (3) under Crim. P. 35(a), the illegality of a sentence on one count did not entitle a defendant to resentencing on other counts with legal sentences; and (4) if a sentence was subject to correction on one count, Crim. P. 35(b) authorized a resentencing court to reconsider and reduce the legal sentences as to all counts after it has corrected the entire sentence. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the court of appeals and remanded this case for further proceedings.