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State v. Dudley

Supreme Court of Connecticut

August 6, 2019

STATE of Connecticut
v.
Lionel G. DUDLEY

         Argued January 24, 2019

         Appeal from the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London, Clifford, J..

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          Laila M. G. Haswell, senior assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

         Denise B. Smoker, senior assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael L. Regan, state’s attorney, and Stacey M. Miranda, senior assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Robinson, C. J., and Palmer, McDonald, D’Auria, Mullins, Kahn and Ecker, Js.

         OPINION

         D’AURIA, J.

         [332 Conn. 641] In 2011, our General Assembly changed the penalty for possessing less than one-half ounce of marijuana from a potential term of imprisonment and/ or a large fine to merely a fine. See Public Acts 2011, No. 11-71 (P.A. 11-71), codified at General Statutes § 21a-279a.[1] Subsequently, in State v. Menditto, 315 Conn. 861, 863, 110 A.3d 410 (2015), this court held that P.A. 11-71 "decriminalized" the possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana for purposes of this state’s erasure statute, General Statutes § 54-142d.[2] In the present case, the defendant asks us to hold that § 54-142d also compels the erasure

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of a finding of a violation of probation that he claims was premised on the now decriminalized offense of possession of less than one-half [332 Conn. 642] ounce of marijuana. The trial court rejected the defendant’s argument, and we affirm the trial court’s decision.

         The record reveals the following undisputed facts and procedural history, which are relevant to the resolution of this appeal. In 2007, the defendant pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine[3] to possession of narcotics in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2005) § 21a-279 (a). The trial court sentenced him to thirty months of imprisonment, execution suspended, and two years of probation. The terms of probation included that the defendant "not violate any criminal law of the United States, this state or any other state or territory." The court also ordered special conditions of probation, including substance abuse evaluation and twenty hours of community service.

          In July, 2008, the defendant was arrested again, this time on a charge of selling narcotics. Pursuant to a September, 2009 plea agreement, he admitted to violating his probation, and the court extended his probation for another year. The court accepted a nolle prosequi from the state on the underlying narcotics charge.

         With approximately eight days remaining on the defendant’s extended probation, in July, 2010, the police found him in possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana. Subsequently, an arrest warrant issued for the defendant, alleging that he had engaged in the sale of a controlled substance in violation of the conditions of his probation prohibiting the violation of any criminal law of the United States, this state or any other state. The arrest warrant also alleged that the defendant failed to provide verification that he had completed the twenty [332 Conn. 643] hours of community service. He was arrested and charged with possession and sale of a controlled substance, and with violating his probation. In July, 2012, he pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine to the misdemeanor charge of possession of less than four ounces of marijuana in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2009) § 21a-279 (c).[4] Also during the plea proceedings, the defendant admitted to the probation violation. The prosecutor stated on the record that the violation of probation ...


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