Appeals court affirms rulings in rape case - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Appeals court affirms rulings in rape case

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Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — The Idaho Court of Appeals is affirming the conviction and sentence imposed against a Bonner County man for statutory rape.

The appeals court is also affirming a lower court’s decision to relinquish jurisdiction over Scott Anthony Hansen or reduce his sentence, according to an opinion published on Monday.

Hansen was originally charged in 2011 with engaging in lewd conduct with a 13-year-old girl and the statutory rape of another 13-year-old girl. Hansen was 18 at the time he was charged.

In an agreement with the state, Hansen pleaded guilty to statutory rape and the lewd conduct charge was dismissed, court records show. The terms of the pretrial settlement agreement required him to admit wrongdoing for the dismissed offense, however.

Hansen was given a two- to eight-year prison sentence and jurisdiction was retained. When a court retains jurisdiction over a defendant, also known as a rider, a defendant becomes eligible for parole after serving up to a year in prison.

If a judge relinquishes jurisdiction, a defendant can be made to serve their underlying prison term.

Hansen appealed his conviction, claiming that the sentencing judge tread on his due process rights by denying him allocution. Allocution is a procedural right that allows a defendant to make a statement or present information in mitigation of punishment.

Hansen had remarks for the court, although his defense counsel wished to provide information and call several witnesses.

“Before imposing the sentence, the district court did not ask whether Hansen wished to make a statement,” Chief Judge Sergio Gutierrez noted in the opinion.

Hansen argued the oversight amounted to a fundamental error worthy of triggering a re-sentencing hearing.

Gutierrez said the appeals court could not conclude from the record that the lower court’s failure to later invite a statement was an affirmative denial of the opportunity to allocute and not simply an oversight, Gutierrez wrote.

“However, a violation by the district court of a rule of procedure does not necessarily equate to a deprivation of a constitutional right,” Gutierrez said in the nine-page opinion.

Hansen further argued that the district court abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sentence and relinquishing jurisdiction, but the appellate court disagreed.

Gutierrez held that Hansen ran into numerous disciplinary issues at the North Idaho Correctional Institution, making him a poor candidate for probation. Gutierrez also found that the lower court did not abuse its discretion by declining Hansen’s post-conviction plea for leniency due to his high risk for recidivism.

Judges Karen Lansing and John Melanson concurred.

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