State of Tennessee v. Charles Keese

State of Tennessee v. Charles Keese

This is the second in a succession of three cases concerning Section 5 of the Public Safety Act of 2016, which took effect on January 1, 2017, and amended Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-105, the statute providing for grading of theft offenses.  In 2016, before the amended version of the statute took effect, Charles Keese, the defendant, was convicted of theft of property in the amount of $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony at the time of the offense.  In sentencing the defendant before the amendment’s effective date, the trial court applied the amended version of the statute, which graded theft of more than $1,000 but less than $2,500 as a Class E felony, and sentenced the defendant accordingly.  Both the State and the defendant filed notices of appeal.  The Court of Criminal Appeals, after determining that appellate jurisdiction over the sentencing issue raised by the State was proper, vacated the sentence and remanded for entry of a sentence reflecting a conviction of a Class D felony.  We granted the defendant’s application for permission to appeal in this case in order to consider (1) whether the State had the right to appeal the trial court’s sentencing decision, and (2) whether the Criminal Savings Statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-11-112, should apply to the amendments of the theft grading statute where, as here, the offense occurred and the defendant was sentenced before the statute’s effective date.  We conclude that the State had a statutory right to appeal the sentence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-402(b)(1).  In addition, we agree with the Court of Criminal Appeals’ determination that the Criminal Savings Statute applies to the amendments to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-105.  We also agree with its ultimate conclusion that the trial court erred in sentencing the defendant under the amended version of the statute prior to its effective date.  We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand to the trial court for the entry of a modified judgment consistent with this opinion.

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: 
Judge G. Scott Green
Date Filed: 
Wednesday, November 27, 2019