Friday, January 27, 2006

Imposition of sentence means announcement of sentence

State v. Todd, 2006 UT 7

If you practice criminal law, pay attention.

Under rule 24, Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure, the ten-day window to file a motion for a new trial runs from "imposition of sentence." The court of appeals construed that phrase to mean when the district court enters a signed written sentencing order. In other words, entry of judgment The supreme court disagreed and said that "imposition of sentence" means announcement of sentence. In other words, when the judge tells you to go to jail, not to pass go, and not to collect $200.

This distinction is important because it can affect the time to file your notice of appeal. Under rule 4(b), Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure, certain post-judgment motions, if timely filed, toll the time to file a notice of appeal until the court enters an order granting or denying the motion.

The time to file the civil 4(b) motions runs from "entry of judgment," which is construed as entry of a signed final order. But the time to file a criminal new trial motion (which is the only criminal 4(b) motion) runs from "imposition of sentence." Thus, under Todd, if the court announces sentence, but doesn't enter its sentencing order for a couple of days, the time to file your new trial motion and toll the time appeal under rule 4(b) runs from announcement of sentence, not entry of the order.

The criminal rules advisory committee would be wise to propose an amendment bringing the timing of a criminal new trial motion in line with the civil motions.


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