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Judges find man's sentence violates statute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals relied on a case from the state’s highest court to rule on whether a term of imprisonment for the purposes of Indiana Code 35-50-3-1(b) includes both the executed and suspended portions of a sentence.

Joey Jennings challenged his conviction of Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief and the sentence imposed by the Monroe Circuit Court – 180 days in jail with 150 suspended and 360 days of probation. Jennings didn’t think the state presented sufficient evidence to prove he was the person who slashed Cody Pope’s tire and scratched his truck. He also believed he was sentenced in excess of the statutory maximum sentence of 180 days because his terms of imprisonment and probation exceeded one year. This is prohibited under I.C. 35-50-3-1-(b).

The appellate court affirmed Jennings’ conviction in Joey Jennings v. State of Indiana, No. 53A01-1010-CR-541, finding that even though the evidence was circumstantial, it was enough to convict him. Witnesses heard the sound of air, like air brakes going off, and then Jennings’ car drove off quickly.

Regarding his sentence, the judges agreed with Jennings. They discussed several cases, including Beck v. State, 790 N.E.2d 520, 523 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003), that have construed the phrase “term of imprisonment,” but could not be controlling authority. Instead, they relied on Mask v. State, 829 N.E.2d 932 (Ind. 2005), to find that Jennings’ sentence needed to be revised.  The justices reasoned that incarceration under I.C. 35-50-1-2(c) doesn’t mean the period of executed time alone, and there is always the possibility that someone could have their parole or probation revoked and returned to prison.

“In other words, the imposition of a suspended sentence leaves open the real possibility that an individual will be ‘sent to incarceration for some period’ before being released from any penal obligation,” the Mask court wrote.

“We conclude that Jennings’s term of imprisonment for the purposes of Indiana Code section 35-50-3-1(b) includes not only the thirty-day executed portion of his sentence, but also the 150-day suspended term. Thus, the trial court’s imposition of a 360-day term of probation in addition to Jennings’s 180-day term of imprisonment caused Jennings to serve more than one year of combined imprisonment and probation, in violation of Indiana Code section 35-50-3-1(b),” wrote Judge Paul Mathias. “We therefore remand this cause to the trial court for a redetermination of Jennings’s period of probation, not to exceed 185 days.”


 

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  1. Access to the court (judiciary branch of government) is the REAL problem, NOT necessarily lack of access to an attorney. Unfortunately, I've lived in a legal and financial hell for the past six years due to a divorce (where I was, supposedly, represented by an attorney) in which I was defrauded of settlement and the other party (and helpers) enriched through the fraud. When I attempted to introduce evidence and testify (pro se) in a foreclosure/eviction, I was silenced (apparently on procedural grounds, as research I've done since indicates). I was thrown out of a residence which was to be sold, by a judge who refused to allow me to speak in (the supposedly "informal") small claims court where the eviction proceeding (by ex-brother-in-law) was held. Six years and I can't even get back on solid or stable ground ... having bank account seized twice, unlawfully ... and now, for the past year, being dragged into court - again, contrary to law and appellate decisions - by former attorney, who is trying to force payment from exempt funds. Friday will mark fifth appearance. Hopefully, I'll be allowed to speak. The situation I find myself in shouldn't even be possible, much less dragging out with no end in sight, for years. I've done nothing wrong, but am watching a lot of wrong being accomplished under court jurisdiction; only because I was married to someone who wanted and was granted a divorce (but was not willing to assume the responsibilities that come with granting the divorce). In fact, the recalcitrant party was enriched by well over $100k, although it was necessarily split with other actors. Pro bono help? It's a nice dream ... but that's all it is, for too many. Meanwhile, injustice marches on.

  2. Both sites mentioned in the article appear to be nonfunctional to date (March 28, 2017). http://indianalegalanswers.org/ returns a message stating the "server is taking too long to respond" and http://www.abafreelegalasnswers.org/ "can't find the server". Although this does not surprise me, it is disheartening to know that access to the judicial branch of government remains out of reach for too many citizens (for procedural rather than meritorious reasons) of Indiana. Any updates regarding this story?

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