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Sentencing – Review — Harsh & Excessive, Generally

State v. Wallace I. Stenzel, 2004 WI App 181
For Stenzel: Martin E. Kohler

Issue/Holding:

¶21. Finally, Stenzel asserts that the court erroneously exercised its discretion because the sentence is unduly harsh and unconscionable. When a defendant argues that his or her sentence is unduly harsh or excessive, we will hold that the sentencing court erroneously exercised its discretion “only where the sentence is so excessive and unusual and so disproportionate to the offense committed as to shock public sentiment and violate the judgment of reasonable people concerning what is right and proper under the circumstances.” Ocanas v. State, 70 Wis. 2d 179, 185, 233 N.W.2d 457 (1975).

¶22. We conclude that the sentence is not so excessive as to be unduly harsh and unconscionable. When Stenzel entered his no contest plea to two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, a Class B Felony, he faced the possibility of a total sentence of sixty years. See Wis. Stat. § 939.50(3)(b). The sentence of fourteen years, with eight years of initial confinement, is within the statutory limits. “A sentence well within the limits of the maximum sentence is not so disproportionate to the offense committed as to shock the public sentiment and violate the judgment of reasonable people concerning what is right and proper under the circumstances.” State v. Daniels, 117 Wis. 2d 9, 22, 343 N.W.2d 411 (Ct. App. 1983). In addition, because there were two victims, making the sentences consecutive does not shock the public sentiment and make the sentences unduly harsh and unconscionable. See State v. Hamm, 146 Wis. 2d 130, 157, 430 N.W.2d 584 (Ct. App. 1988). Finally, considering the age of the victims and the gravity of the offenses, public sentiment supports the sentences imposed.

 

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