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State v. Elioff

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 12, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Christopher Thomas Elioff, Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

St. Louis County District Court File No. 69VI-CR-11-92

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Mark S. Rubin, St. Louis County Attorney, Michelle M. Anderson, Assistant County Attorney, Virginia, Minnesota (for respondent).

Richard L. Swanson, Chaska, Minnesota (for appellant).

Considered and decided by Larkin, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Hooten, Judge.

HALBROOKS, Judge.

On appeal following his conviction of first-degree driving while impaired (DWI), appellant argues that, because he is amenable to probation, the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a dispositional departure. Because the district court acted within its discretion in sentencing appellant, we affirm.

FACTS

In 2011, appellant Christopher Thomas Elioff was charged by amended complaint with two counts of first-degree DWI in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(1), (5) (2010); gross misdemeanor driving after cancellation in violation of Minn. Stat. § 171.24, subd. 5(1) (2010); and giving a false name to a peace officer in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.506, subd. 2 (2010). He pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree DWI in exchange for the state's agreement to recommend a presumptive sentence and dismissal of the remaining charges.

As a part of the presentence investigation, Elioff underwent a psychological assessment. Elioff moved for a dispositional departure on the ground that the psychological assessment recommended long-term treatment to address his chemical dependency and because he has been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and an antisocial-personality disorder. The state opposed a sentencing departure, citing Elioff's lack of cooperation in past treatment settings, as indicated in the psychological assessment; concerns of accountability, appropriate supervision, and public safety; and Elioff's record of antisocial and criminal behavior.

The district court denied Elioff's motion for a dispositional departure and imposed a presumptive sentence of 54 months' imprisonment. This appeal follows.

DECISION

The decision to depart from the sentencing guidelines rests within the district court's discretion and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. State v. Misquadace, 644 N.W.2d 65, 68 (Minn. 2002). Only in a "rare" case will we reverse a district court's imposition of the presumptive sentence. State v. Kindem, 313 N.W.2d 6, 7 (Minn. 1981).

The district court may depart from a presumptive sentence under the sentencing guidelines only if "substantial and compelling" circumstances are present. Id. "If the district court has discretion to depart from a presumptive sentence, it must exercise that discretion by deliberately considering circumstances for and against departure." State v. Mendoza, 638 N.W.2d 480, 483 (Minn.App. 2002), review denied (Minn. Apr. 16, 2002). Provided the district court "carefully evaluated all the testimony and information presented before making a [sentencing] determination, " we will not interfere ...


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