Alexander Hymowitz: Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands v. Hocog, 2020 MP 7

Alexander Hymowitz: Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands v. Hocog, 2020 MP 7
CANNANNEW REPORT

 Alexander Hymowitz Overview Defendant was charged with Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance in violation of 6 CMC § 2142(a)-(b).[1] Defendant entered plea negotiations which resulted in a sentence requiring 15 months’ imprisonment, a $2,000 fine, and 30 months of drug rehabilitation services after release. Pursuant to the terms in the plea agreement, the court mandated Hocog to receive 30 months of rehabilitation treatment from the Hawaii Habilitat Treatment facility or a similar facility. The Court found that Defendant’s sentence with respect to the rehabilitation provision was unreasonable. The court vacated and remanded the decision to the lower court. Background The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (“Commonwealth”) charged Hocog with Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance in violation of 6 CMC § 2142(b). The parties negotiated and entered into a plea agreement, in which Hocog agreed to plead guilty to the charge, be sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment, pay a $2,000 fine, and receive thirty months of drug rehabilitation services after his release from imprisonment. Hocog agreed to rehabilitation conditioned upon the Commonwealth withdrawing a motion to forfeit Hocog’s $10,000 bond. The parties presented the plea agreement at a change of plea hearing. At the hearing, defense counsel objected to a clause in the plea agreement proposing the Office of Adult Probation (“OAP”) monitor Hocog’s compliance with the rehabilitation provision. After negotiations, the monitoring party was changed to the CNMI Office of the Attorney General. Eight months later, Defendant filed a motion to correct illegal sentence pursuant to NMI Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(a), arguing the court did not have authority to enforce the rehabilitation provision and the provision was thus illegal. Issue The question revolved on whether a rehabilitation clause in a marijuana related plea agreement creates an illegal sentence? Ruling The rehabilitation clause was not an illegal…

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Source : Alexander Hymowitz: Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands v. Hocog, 2020 MP 7

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