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STATE v. BRANSON

6/7/1996

t under I.C. § 19-2601(2) or withhold judgment pursuant to I.C. § 19-2601(3). State v. Pedroza, 101 Idaho 440, 442, 614 P.2d 980, 982 (1980). In either case, the defendant is placed on probation to the board of correction. Id. Beyond that similarity, however, the different effect of these sentencing alternatives on the defendant can be substantial. If the court grants a withheld judgment to a particular defendant and places that defendant on probation, jurisdiction is retained by the district court during the period of probation and the court has continuing jurisdiction to modify the conditions of the defendant's probation. Peltier v. State, 119 Idaho 454, 460, 808 P.2d 373, 379 (1991) (citations omitted). If those conditions are violated, the district court may revoke the defendant's probation and thereafter "impose any sentence which originally might have been imposed at the time of conviction." Id. (emphasis in original) (citing Pedroza, 101 Idaho at 442, 614 P.2d at 982 interpreting I.C. §§ 19-2603; 20-222). If a defendant's probation is revoked following a court's suspension of execution
of the sentence, however, the district court may only "cause the sentence imposed to be executed." Pedroza, 101 Idaho at 442, 614 P.2d at 982 (emphasis in original) (quoting I.C. § 20-222).


In Peltier, the defendant was placed on probation for five years on certain terms and conditions. The defendant thereafter violated the terms of his probation upon which the district court imposed an indeterminate sentence not to exceed twenty years. The defendant argued that the original sentence imposed by the district court was a suspended sentence and that violation of the terms and conditions of probation could result in a maximum sentence of only five years. This Court held that the district court's sentence was, in fact, a withheld judgment and that, upon violation of the terms and conditions of his probation, "he could be brought before the district court and have a sentence of up to life imprisonment imposed." 119 Idaho at 461, 808 P.2d at 380.


The differential impact of a suspended sentence and a withheld judgment on a given defendant's potential prison term is only one consideration, however. More important in determining the boundaries of the court's inherent authority under the Idaho Constitution are the substantial procedural differences between these two options. When judgment is withheld under I.C. § 19-2601 there is no sentence actually imposed on the defendant and, more importantly, no judgment of conviction is entered. See Peltier, 119 Idaho at 460, 808 P.2d at 379 ("The difference between suspending the imposition of sentence and withholding judgment is that under the former the defendant's judgment of conviction is entered, whereas in the latter case it is withheld."). The power to withhold a judgment of conviction is provided to the court in order to spare the defendant, particularly a first time offender, "the burden of a criminal record." State v. Wagenius, 99 Idaho 273, 279, 581 P.2d 319, 325 (1978). See also Ex parte Medley, 73 Idaho 474, 479, 253 P.2d 794, 797 (1953) (withholding judgment after a plea of guilty "protects the defendant at that time against the stigma of a conviction which may be forever avoided" if the defendant complies with the terms of the probation). Thus although "courts are given discretion in sentencing" which implicitly includes the inherent authority to suspend an imposed sentence, McCoy, 94 Idaho at 240, 486 P.2d at 251, the power to withhold judgment under I.C. § 19-2601 involves matters clearly outside of and antecedent to the court's inherent sentencing discretion.


In State v. Funk, 123 Idaho 967, 855 P.2d 52 (1993), this Court examined a related

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