Skip to main content

GRAYDON v. THE STATE (2012)

Court of Appeals of Georgia.

GRAYDON v. THE STATE.

A12A0061.

Decided: January 13, 2012

Bradley Graydon entered a guilty plea in the Superior Court of Whitfield County to felony theft by shoplifting, OCGA § 16–8–14(a).   See also OCGA § 16–8–14(b)(2) (felony punishment when the stolen property exceeds $ 300 in value).   The trial court denied Graydon's request for first offender treatment.   Graydon filed a motion to vacate his judgment of guilt and sentence on the basis that the trial court applied a mechanical sentencing formula and, thus, failed to exercise its discretion as required under the First Offender Act, OCGA § 42–8–60 et seq.   The trial court denied Graydon's motion, and he appeals.   Finding no error, we affirm.

The First Offender Act

provides that, for a defendant without prior felony convictions, a court may defer entering a judgment of guilt and place the defendant on probation or in confinement.   While the decision whether to sentence a defendant as a first offender lies entirely within the trial court's discretion, the trial court is required to exercise that discretion rather than apply an inflexible rule.

(Citations and punctuation omitted.)  Wnek v. State, 262 Ga.App. 733, 733–734 (586 S.E.2d 428) (2003).  “[A] trial court's use of a mechanical sentencing formula or policy as to any portion of a sentence amounts to a refusal to exercise its discretion and therefore is an abdication of judicial responsibility.”  (Citation and punctuation omitted.)  Shell v. State, 264 Ga.App. 547, 550(2) (591 S.E.2d 450) (2003).   There is a presumption, however, that a trial court regularly and correctly conducted the proceedings.   Powell v. State, 271 Ga.App. 550, 552 (610 S.E.2d 178) (2005);  Camaron v. State, 246 Ga.App. 80, 83(2) (539 S.E.2d 577) (2000).   We will remand only when the record clearly establishes either that the trial court refused to consider first offender treatment on the merits or erroneously believed that the law did not permit such an exercise of discretion.  Steele v. State, 270 Ga.App. 488, 491 (606 S.E.2d 664) (2004);  Shell v. State, 264 Ga.App. at 550(2).1

In rejecting Graydon's request for first offender treatment, the trial court explained that, “under most circumstances,” it did not grant requests for first offender treatment in cases involving theft but “[t]ypically” granted it in cases such as those involving “simple possession of a drug without any other aggravating circumstances.”   At the hearing on Graydon's motion to vacate his sentence, the trial court further explained,

I have no absolute rule in regard to first offender [treatment].   As a practical matter, however, I'm inclined to give it to people who [have a] first drug offense.   Those [cases] involving serious dishonesty, like theft, I'm not inclined to give [it].   That doesn't mean I wouldn't in a very unusual case.   But[,] the felony theft by shoplifting, the nature of the offense was the primary requisite that went into [denying Graydon's request].

The trial court's statements show neither an outright refusal to consider first offender treatment nor an erroneous belief that the law does not permit first offender treatment in such a case.   The record shows, rather, that the trial court was aware that it could treat Graydon as a first offender but, after considering the conduct Graydon admitted, exercised its discretion not to do so.   Thus, the judgment must be affirmed.  Steele v. State, 270 Ga.App. at 491–492.

Judgment affirmed.   Phipps, P. J., and Dillard, J., concur.

FOOTNOTES

FN1. See, e.g.,Wnek v. State, 262 Ga.App. at 735 (Trial court failed to exercise its discretion where it had a policy of not granting a request for first offender treatment to a defendant who goes to trial and is found guilty by a jury.);  Wilcox v. State, 257 Ga.App. 519, 520–521 (571 S.E.2d 512) (2002) (Trial court failed to exercise its discretion where it had a per se rule of refusing to permit first offender treatment in armed robbery cases.);  Jones v. State, 208 Ga.App. 472, 473 (431 S.E.2d 136) (1993) (Trial court failed to exercise its discretion where it had a policy of never granting a request for first offender treatment in a case in the superior court.)..  FN1. See, e.g.,Wnek v. State, 262 Ga.App. at 735 (Trial court failed to exercise its discretion where it had a policy of not granting a request for first offender treatment to a defendant who goes to trial and is found guilty by a jury.);  Wilcox v. State, 257 Ga.App. 519, 520–521 (571 S.E.2d 512) (2002) (Trial court failed to exercise its discretion where it had a per se rule of refusing to permit first offender treatment in armed robbery cases.);  Jones v. State, 208 Ga.App. 472, 473 (431 S.E.2d 136) (1993) (Trial court failed to exercise its discretion where it had a policy of never granting a request for first offender treatment in a case in the superior court.).

Ellington, Judge.

Was this helpful?

Thank you. Your response has been sent.

Welcome to FindLaw's Cases & Codes

A free source of state and federal court opinions, state laws, and the United States Code. For more information about the legal concepts addressed by these cases and statutes visit FindLaw's Learn About the Law.

Go to Learn About the Law
GRAYDON v. THE STATE (2012)

Docket No: A12A0061.

Decided: January 13, 2012

Court: Court of Appeals of Georgia.

Get a profile on the #1 online legal directory

Harness the power of our directory with your own profile. Select the button below to sign up.

Sign up

Learn About the Law

Get help with your legal needs

FindLaw’s Learn About the Law features thousands of informational articles to help you understand your options. And if you’re ready to hire an attorney, find one in your area who can help.

Learn more about the law
Copied to clipboard