Prison Sentence Extended

With the recent news event of the takeover of the federal wildlife refuge building, I was curious about something the news reports said of a sentence being extended.

Here’s the article on the case:
http://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/eastern-oregon-ranchers-convicted-arson-resentenced-five-years-prison

I was under the impression that sentences could not be extended unless there was a new trial. I thought that higher courts could only reduce or commute sentences, not make them longer.

Is this ability to extend sentences unique to the federal system?

Because I can think of numerous high-profile state cases where there was a big stink because the sentence the judge passed down was thought to be too lenient. (Ethan Couch comes to mind, though there have also been adult cases.) I’m unaware of the prosecutors having an option to appeal the sentence to get it thrown out and a harsher sentence given. My recollection is that basically the prosecutors had their hands tied. The sentence was what the judge said it was and nothing could be done about it.

As I read it, the original sentence was initially overturned as being too harsh, but re-imposed after a higher court ruled that said original sentence was proper. Not unusual, IMHO.

That a judge reduces a sentence is not unusual. I’ve never heard of one basically going, “Ooops, shouldn’t have done that reduction. You’re going to be spending longer in prison.” That would be like commuting a death penalty to life in prison, then re-instituting the death penalty.

The only times I’ve heard of where there was an increased sentence was when the first trial was thrown out and there was a whole new second trial.

In this instance, the original sentence seemed to have been less than a federal mandatory. So the higher court had the right to apply the mandatory.

Seems sensible in the case as described.

Let me explain a surprisingly little-known aspect of the American legal system: civil confinement.

Basically it works like this. You commit a crime. You’re convicted. You receive a prison sentence. You go to prison. You complete your sentence.

What happens next? You’re probably thinking you get released from prison. But that’s not always the case. Several states have procedures which allow a person to be kept in prison even after their sentence has been completed.

Well, now you’ve heard of a case in which a harsher sentence was imposed following the prosecution appeal of a legally insufficient sentence.

The heck ? No sentencing is only sentencing and can be repeated numerous times. Of course, if you don’t have new argument, the court may well say ‘we already did that’, out of hand, thank you for the filing fee.

Courts often have a unique system for handling appeals of a sentence, and that might be why you would get confused. You might read a description of the criminal case appeal process , and confuse details from that with the sentencing appeals process.

The sentence wasn’t “extended,” the old one was vacated and a new one imposed after an appeal calling for the lesser sentence was reversed. So it’s like the first sentence never really existed. From the link:

Much like parole.

Interesting, but not relevant to this case.

Basically the higher court found that the trial judge overstepped his bounds and handed out a sentence that wasn’t allowed by the law. That is pretty much the point of having an appeals court. They are not interested in the guilt or innocence of the defendant, only if the law was followed in the trial.

Yes, I think the OP is assuming that double jeopardy applies to sentencing or something like that.

Well… it kinda sorta does.

First, the double jeopardy clause does prevent multiple punishments for the same offense.

Secondly, the double jeopardy clause and the due process clause both have some play in a re-sentencing after an appeal. I’ll go into detail if anyone’s interested, but the basic rule is that if a court increases a sentence following an appeal and remand, the reason for the increase should affirmatively appear in the record and must make clear that the increase is not retaliatory – in other words, the court cannot punish a defendant for exercise of his right to appeal by increasing his sentence if his appeal results in a new trial and new conviction, or even a new sentencing hearing.

Popehat’s take on it. If anyone is interested. Basically, the original judge refused to impose the mandatory five year minimum sentence, stating that it was cruel and unusual. Saying five years for arson is cruel and unusual is asking for an appeal, especially when one of the sentences was reduced to three months.

In making the plea deal with the Hammonds, the government had dismissed 2/3 of the charges and stipulated that the sentences for the two arson charges could run concurrently. Even though they had to go to appeal to get the sentence they’d agreed to, the government didn’t try to change that stipulation.

Sounds like a case of judicial nullification, sort of like jury nullification except, apparently, more reversible.

It might not have happened in the particular case the OP mentioned but I think it was relevant to the overall topic of prison sentences being extended.

Well, in one of the Bundy threads there was a link to the Montana Freemen people, and in that:
*On 7 April 2008, Russell Dean Landers had his 11-year, 3-month sentence extended by 15 years for attempting to extort his release from prison. He and two other inmates at the federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma had demanded millions of dollars from officials for the use of their names, which they claimed were “copyrighted.” They were found guilty of “conspiring to impede the duties of federal prison officials and extortion in (their) efforts to gain release from prison by making financial demands on prison staff and attempting to seize their property.”
*Which seems remarkably vindictive.
One of his colleagues:

Daniel E. Peterson was sentenced to additional time for filing bogus liens from prison against three federal judges
This too is dull; however since, … "He was demanding $100 trillion, as well as $1 billion per day in interest for unlawfully confining him
." I would have just told him to shut up.

Isn’t that them being kept in prison longer for a new crime committed in prison, rather than their original sentence being extended? The phrasing of the article is off, but it was new crimes. Happens to prisoners all the time, usually for drugs offences or assault on another prisoner or guard.

It’s a bit unusual for a prisoner to be convicted of a crime for filing bogus civil actions from prison. Normally they just get yelled at by the courts for abuse of process and told that their pro se filings will no longer be accepted.

That’s true , but most of those bogus civil actions don’t involve filing false retaliatory liens against government officials - which is a crime under 18 USC 1521 ***

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