Justices strike down partial consecutive sentences

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana trial court judges do not have discretion to impose partial consecutive sentences, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Bryant E. Wilson was convicted of Class A felony counts of rape and criminal deviate conduct and Class B felony armed robbery. Grant Circuit Judge Mark E. Spitzer sentenced Wilson to 45 years in prison on the A felony counts and 20 years on the B felony. He ordered five years of the 20-year sentence be served consecutively to the 45-year term, with the remaining 15 years served concurrently, for an aggregate 50-year sentence.

“Is this form of sentence permissible?” Justice Steven David wrote for the court in Bryant E. Wilson v. State of Indiana, 27S02-1309-CR-584. “Because trial courts are limited to sentences authorized by statute, and because the relevant provisions of the Indiana Code here do not authorize such a hybrid sentence, the answer must be 'no.'"

The Court of Appeals affirmed Wilson’s sentence in a split opinion. The majority of the COA panel held that such partial-consecutive sentences were permissible because statute did not prohibit them. Justices, however, sided with then-Chief Judge Margret Robb’s dissent in which she wrote courts may only impose sentences authorized by statute.

"Chief Judge Robb was correct when she said that “sentencing is a creature of the legislature and … we are limited to sentences that have been expressly permitted by the legislature,” David wrote. The panel wrote that allowing hybrid sentences would potentially create absurd and complicated results.

Justices remanded the matter for resentencing not to exceed the current aggregate 50-year term.

"There are a number of ways that Wilson’s aggregate sentence of fifty years can be effectuated by the trial court on remand, if it is merited. Imposing a partially consecutive sentence for one of the individual convictions is not one of them," David wrote.



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon