Appeals court upholds jail sentence

Larry Limpf

A 30-month jail term for a Lake Township woman who violated conditions of her community control sentence has been upheld by the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals.
Gina Brandt had appealed a decision by Wood County Common Pleas Court where she had pled guilty in March 2017 to trespassing in a habitation, a fourth degree felony; petty theft, a first degree misdemeanor, and grand theft of a firearm, a third degree felony.
The charges stemmed from the November 2015 break-in at a township residence and theft of a television and gaming system and the August 2016 theft of a 9 millimeter handgun.
In June 2017, Brandt was sentenced to three years of community control with conditions including substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling.
Between June 2018 and June 2020, prosecutors filed three times to have Brandt’s community control revoked due to her violating terms, including failure to report to her probation officer three times, testing positive for cocaine, and failure to submit to a toxicology screen.
After the first violation, her community control was extended by one year; after the second violation the court continued her community control but added a requirement she complete the Correctional Treatment Facility program, including not consuming alcohol or illegal substances and not frequenting establishments serving alcohol. The jail term was imposed after the third violation.
In her appeal, Brandt argued her prison sentence was contrary to law because the court didn’t give proper weight to mitigating factors under state law, including her on-going compliance with the court’s “substantial” orders, her history of abuse and mental health issues, and her “transformation” from her initial 2017 sentencing to her willingness to enter inpatient treatment.
Those factors demonstrate the court’s sentence doesn’t comport with the purposes of felony sentencing as set in state law, her appeal said.
But the appeals court disagreed. Citing a recent Ohio Supreme Court case, the court said the relevant section of state law requires trial courts to consider factors identified in specific sections of state law when imposing sentences, but the law doesn’t permit an appellate court to “independently weigh the evidence in the record and substitute its judgment for that of the trial court…”
“Simply put, this court’s function is to make certain that the sentence imposed is a product of the consideration of the required statutes and is within the statutory sentencing range,” the appeals court wrote.


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