STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v. Guilford County
No. 04 CRS 85756
MEKOSE DONTE SILER
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General
Gregory P. Roney, for the State.
Bryan Gates for defendant-appellant.
On 14 September 2005, Mekose Donte Siler (defendant) was found
guilty by a jury of robbery with a dangerous weapon. On the same
date, Judge Cromer entered an order continuing defendant's
sentencing hearing until 29 September 2005. Defendant's sentencing
hearing was thereafter continued for a second time. On 18 October
2005, the trial court sentenced defendant within the presumptive
range to fifty-one to seventy-one months' imprisonment. Defendant
appeals. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the judgment.
On 14 September 2005, a jury found defendant guilty of robbery with a dangerous weapon. On the same date, the trial court continued the sentencing hearing until 29 September 2005. Therecord indicates that the trial court, on its own, continued the sentencing hearing to give defendant the opportunity to speak with his counsel and determine whether he was willing to identify two other people who were allegedly involved in the robbery for which defendant was convicted.
On 29 September 2005, the parties appeared before the trial court. At that time, defendant, through his counsel, informed the trial court of the identity of one other person involved in the robbery and informed the trial court that there were only two people involved in the robbery. The trial court then continued the sentencing hearing until 17 October 2005 to give the State the opportunity to confer with the victim and to determine whether the person identified by defendant was involved in the robbery.
Defendant's sentencing hearing was held on 18 October 2005, during the 17 October 2005 Criminal Session of Guilford County Superior Court. At that time, defense counsel and the prosecutor were given the opportunity to present arguments regarding defendant's sentence. The trial court then rendered his decision sentencing defendant in the bottom of the presumptive range to fifty-one to seventy-one months' imprisonment. The written judgment was entered on the same date.
In his sole assignment of error, defendant argues that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to sentence defendant because the judgment was entered out of session. We disagree.
The sentence of a criminal defendant does not necessarily have to be imposed at the same term of court at which the verdictor plea of guilty was had[.] State v. Graham, 225 N.C. 217, 219, 34 S.E.2d 146, 147 (1945). Indeed, a trial court is authorized to continue the case to a subsequent date for sentencing. See id. This continuance is often referred to as a prayer for judgment continued. See State v. Degree, 110 N.C. App. 638, 640, 430 S.E.2d 491, 493 (1993). A continuance of this type vests a trial judge presiding at a subsequent session of court with the jurisdiction to sentence a defendant for crimes previously adjudicated. See id. at 641, 430 S.E.2d at 493. Our legislature has recognized this procedure of delaying the imposition of judgment in criminal cases. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1334(a) (2005) (allowing continuance of the sentencing hearing); id. § 15A-1416(b)(1) (allowing state to move for imposition of sentence when prayer for judgment has been continued). Thus, [a]s long as a prayer for judgment is not continued for an unreasonable period, . . . and the defendant was not prejudiced, . . . the court does not lose the jurisdiction to impose a sentence. State v. Absher, 335 N.C. 155, 156, 436 S.E.2d 365, 366 (1993) (citations omitted). In determining whether a sentence has been entered within a reasonable time, this Court has considered the reason for the delay, the length of the delay, whether defendant consented to the delay, and any actual prejudice to defendant resulting from the delay. See Degree, 110 N.C. App. at 641, 430 S.E.2d at 493.
Here, the sentencing hearing was continued for approximately one month. Defendant has not argued that he was prejudiced by this delay. Indeed, the record shows that the trial court continued thesentencing hearing to allow defendant the opportunity to present evidence of a mitigating factor at the sentencing hearing in the event that he chose to provide the identity of other persons allegedly involved in the robbery. Further, defendant did not object to the continuance, nor did he at any time request that judgment be pronounced. Defendant's failure to object or make such a request is tantamount to his consent to a continuation of the sentencing hearing. . . . See Degree, 110 N.C. App. at 641-42, 430 S.E.2d at 493 (citing Miller v. Aderhold, 288 U.S. 206, 210, 77 L. Ed. 702, 705 (1933). Under these circumstances, we conclude that the prayer for judgment was not continued for an unreasonable period and defendant was not prejudiced by the delay. Accordingly, the trial court was not divested of jurisdiction to sentence defendant.
Judges WYNN and GEER concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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