The Ohio Supreme Court has held that a defendant is entiled to an attorney at a resentencing hearing. The court explained that “a resentencing hearing is a critical stage of a criminal proceeding to which the right to counsel attaches.”
The case is State v. Schleiger, Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-3970.
In this case, an appellate court determined that the trial court did not properly impose postrelease control. Therefore, the case was remanded to the trial court for resentencing.
At the resentencing hearing, the court offered to appoint counsel for the defendant, who had represented himself during the appeal. The defendant told the court that he wanted to represent himself.
The trial court then imposed the same sentence, this time including the statutorily requiredthree years of mandatory postrelease control upon release from prison.
The Right to Counsel is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment ot he United States Constitution. A defendant is entiled to counsel during “Critical Stages” of criminal proceedings.
In Gardner v. Florida, 430 U.S. 349, 358, (1977), the U.S. Supreme Court explained that sentencing is a critical stage of the proceedings, and stated that “[t]he defendant has a legitimate interest in the character of the procedure which leads to the imposition of sentence even if he may have no right to object to a particular result of the sentencing process.”
The Ohio Supreme Court reasoned that “a resentencing hearing held for the limited purpose of properly imposing statutorily mandated postrelease control is a critical stage of a criminal proceeding.” This is because the terms of postrelease control are a part of the actual sentence.
The court explained that an attorney may be useful at the resentencing hearing:
counsel’s presence assures that the court complies with the directives of the statute, that it does not exceed the scope of the hearing, that the defendant understands the imposition of postrelease control, and that issues are properly preserved for appellate review.
In this case, however, the trial court acted appropriately in resentencing the defendant without an attorney because the defendany knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to counsel.
Justice Lanzinger wrote a dissenting opinion. Justic Lanzinger believes that “An attorney is unnecessary at this stage of proceedings because at most, the court is” correcting a prior decision. “The hearing is not de novo and is limited to the performance of a ministerial act.”