ILNews

State can't cross-appeal sentence under rule

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The state may not cross-appeal a sentence for an abuse of discretion or inappropriateness unless the defendant appeals his or her sentence in the appellant's brief, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. The issue of the state filing a cross-appeal of a sentence is a matter of first impression.

In Steven McCullough v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0711-CR-931, Steven McCullough filed an appeal of his convictions of two counts of criminal confinement, battery, and the finding he was a habitual offender. He did not appeal his sentence.

On cross-appeal, the state asserted the trial court abused its discretion in balancing aggravating and mitigating factors in imposing McCullough's sentence and the sentences for the Class C felony criminal confinement and habitual offender counts are inappropriately lenient.

After examining Appellate Rules 7(A) and 7(B), and Article 7, Section 6 of the Indiana Constitution, the Court of Appeals determined that under Appellate Rule 7(B) and the Indiana Constitution, nothing prohibited the state from cross-appealing a defendant's sentence.

However, the appellate court interpreted Rule 7(A) as making the state's right to cross-appeal a sentence with respect to an abuse of discretion or inappropriateness contingent upon the defendant initiating an appeal of his sentence in his appellant's brief, wrote Judge Terry Crone. Because McCullough didn't appeal his sentence, Appellate Rule 7(A) prohibits the state's cross-appeal.

Judge Michael Barnes, who concurs in result, wrote in a separate opinion that he disagrees with the majority regarding whether the state could cross-appeal a sentence. He wrote the state can't challenge a sentence on cross-appeal in the absence of legal authority expressly authorizing it to do so.

Based on the language of Rule 7(A), which allows the state to cross-appeal where "provided by law," Judge Barnes wrote he believes the issue in this case is whether Indiana law expressly allows such a challenge; he concluded that state law doesn't allow a challenge.

"It is my belief that Indiana jurisprudence leans heavily in the direction of not allowing such an appeal. In my opinion, the majority's holding chills the right of defendants to appeal sentences. Until directed otherwise, either by our legislature or our supreme court, I conclude that the State is not permitted to challenge a defendant's sentence on cross-appeal in any circumstance," he wrote.

The three-judge panel did unanimously conclude there was enough evidence to support McCullough's convictions; however, it also agreed that his convictions of Class C and Class D felony criminal confinement violate the double jeopardy law, causing the appellate court to vacate his Class D felony confinement conviction.
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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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