¶1 Daniel Worzalla appeals judgments of conviction and orders denying postconviction relief. Worzalla contends that the circuit court's imposition of consecutive sentences on Worzalla's bail jumping convictions impermissibly punished Worzalla twice for the same conduct, was based on inaccurate information, and was excessive.
¶2 In July 2011, Worzalla was charged with stalking, defamation, and violating a restraining order based on his conduct related to S.R., a county social worker who had worked with Worzalla and his children. Worzalla signed a signature bond that contained a condition that Worzalla have no contact with S.R.'s place of employment unless Worzalla had an appointment in the building.
¶3 In October 2011, Worzalla was charged with multiple criminal counts after he arrived at S.R.'s place of employment without an appointment. The charges included violating a restraining order, felony bail jumping for violating his July 2011 bond, and felony bail jumping for violating a July 2009 bond in a separate case.
¶4 After a jury trial, Worzalla was convicted of stalking, defamation, and two counts of felony bail jumping. The court sentenced Worzalla to two years of initial confinement and two and a half years of extended supervision on each bail jumping count; one and a half years of initial confinement and two years of extended supervision on the stalking count; and nine months of jail time on the defamation count, all consecutive. Worzalla appealed, and this court vacated the defamation count and remanded for resentencing on the remaining charges. On resentencing, the circuit court sentenced Worzalla to two years of initial confinement and two and a half years of extended supervision on each bail jumping count, and one and a half years of initial confinement and two years of extended supervision on the stalking count, all consecutive.
¶5 Worzalla contends that he was punished twice for the same conduct when the circuit court imposed consecutive sentences for the two bail jumping counts that arose from Worzalla's single act of entering S.R.'s place of business without an appointment. Worzalla argues that the consecutive sentences for the two bail jumping counts is analogous to a court applying a sentencing enhancement based on the same conduct that underlies the offense, which the Seventh Circuit held impermissible in
¶7 Next, Worzalla contends that the circuit court relied on inaccurate information as to the bail jumping charges in imposing consecutive sentences. Worzalla cites the circuit court's statements at resentencing that it was imposing consecutive sentences because "these were all distinct actions," and "separate events with separate consequences." Worzalla argues that those statements showed that the court relied on its mistaken belief that the two bail jumping charges were based on two separate acts by Worzalla with separate measurable consequences on S.R. and the public. Worzalla also contends that the circuit court relied on inaccurate information when it stated that "there is yet to be any conclusion that this court is aware of by any agency that would have a direct bearing on someone involved not doing their job the way it should be done." Worzalla argues that that statement showed that the court relied on inaccurate information because, following the original sentencing, Worzalla filed a postconviction motion with an exhibit showing that S.R. had been subject to professional discipline in an unrelated matter.
¶8 The State responds that Worzalla did not argue in the circuit court that the court relied on inaccurate information at resentencing, and that Worzalla has thus forfeited those arguments for appeal. See
¶9 Worzalla concedes that he did not argue in the circuit court that the resentencing court relied on inaccurate information. Worzalla asserts, however, that his postconviction motion did argue that a court must provide sufficient justification for imposing consecutive sentences and that the two bail jumping counts were based on a single act.
¶10 To the extent that Worzalla is arguing that he preserved his argument that the circuit court relied on inaccurate information at resentencing by arguing in his postconviction motion that the sentences were excessive and multiplicitous, on the basis that the issues are related, we disagree. "[T]he forfeiture rule focuses on whether particular arguments have been preserved, not on whether general issues were raised before the circuit court." See
¶11 Were we to reach Worzalla's argument that the circuit court relied on inaccurate information at resentencing, we would conclude it lacks merit.
¶12 As to Worzalla's claim that the circuit court relied on inaccurate information that the two bail jumping charges were based on two separate "actions" or "events," we note that the court clarified those statements by then stating that the bail jumping sentences were imposed consecutively based on "the separate nature of each event . . . not event, but charge, the separate consequences of each charge, and the impact that they have had." That statement makes clear that the circuit court understood that the bail jumping charges were based on a single event, but determined that consecutive sentences were appropriate. See
¶13 As to Worzalla's claim that the circuit court relied on a mistaken belief that there was no evidence S.R. had not performed her job properly, we are not persuaded. The circuit court stated that the court was not aware of any conclusion by an agency "that would have a direct bearing on someone involved not doing their job the way it should be done." In the context of the court's sentencing remarks, it is clear that the court meant that there was no evidence that S.R. had not done her job properly in relation to Worzalla. The court made that statement in connection with references to Worzalla's ongoing negative behaviors aimed at S.R. in her capacity as a social worker assigned to work with Worzalla and his children. The circuit court was presumably aware of the evidence as to the unrelated disciplinary proceeding against S.R., but determined that it did not have a "direct bearing" on whether S.R. failed to perform her job properly as Worzalla's social worker.
¶14 Finally, Worzalla argues that his bail jumping sentences were excessive because, Worzalla asserts, the court essentially imposed a nine-year sentence for Worzalla's single act of entering a social services building without an appointment. Worzalla contends that the imposition of consecutive sentences for a single action was contrary to the ABA standards for sentencing, which indicate that a court should not change the severity of the sentence for a single episode based on the number of charges. We are not persuaded that the court erroneously exercised its sentencing discretion.
¶15 We begin "with the presumption that the [circuit] court acted reasonably," and to overcome that presumption, Worzalla "must show some unreasonable or unjustifiable basis in the record for the sentence."
¶16 The court explained that it considered facts pertinent to the standard sentencing factors and objectives, including Worzalla's character as demonstrated by his pattern of manipulative behaviors, the seriousness of the offenses as demonstrated by their impact on the social services office, Worzalla's need for rehabilitation, and the need to protect the public from future similar behavior. See
¶17 Ultimately, Worzalla argues that the facts would have supported a lesser sentence. Worzalla points out that there was no violence or use of a dangerous weapon in this case and that Worzalla had a minimal criminal history. However, we will not disturb a circuit court's exercise of its sentencing discretion if it was not unduly harsh or excessive, even if we would have imposed a different sentence in the first instance. See
By the Court.—Judgments and orders affirmed.
This opinion will not be published. See WIS. STAT. RULE 809.23(1)(b)5. (2015-16).