On May 17, 2021, a three-judge appellate panel decided the Hudson County case of State v. Latonia Bellamy. The principal issue under N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1 was whether the defendant should have received the benefit of a new mitigating factor regarding her young age at her re-sentencing.
Presiding Judge Alvarez wrote for the Appellate Division in relevant part: When an appellate court orders a resentencing, a defendant is ordinarily entitled to a full rehearing. State v. Case (2014). Even “evidence of post-offense conduct, rehabilitative or otherwise, must be considered in assessing the applicability of, and the weight to be given to, aggravating and mitigating factors.” State v. Jaffe (2014). The resentencing judge must “view defendant as he stands before the court on that day unless the remand order specifies a different and more limited resentencing proceeding such as correction of a plainly technical error or a directive to the judge to view the particular sentencing issue from the vantage point of the original sentence.” State v. Randolph (2012).
Resentence hearings are intended to afford the parties and the court the opportunity to reassess and reevaluate each and every sentencing consideration before new penalties are imposed. When an exception to that general rule applies, the appellate decision will say so.
In this case, our prior opinion stated the matter was returned to the trial court, not for the correction of a technical error, such as a merger decision, but for “resentencing consistent with this decision.” State v. Bellamy, No. A-3676-12 (App. Div. Nov. 8, 2017) (slip op. at 7). Although we specifically discussed the lack of support in the record for aggravating factor three, and the need to thoroughly consider mitigating factor eight, the language of the opinion allowed defendant to be sentenced anew, in line with prior precedent.
Sentencing occurs through a balancing of the aggravating and mitigating factors. There are 13 of each that are enacted by statute. There are also non-statutory factors that have developed through our sentencing case law.