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Defendant's fleeing justifies delayed arrest

May 29, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the revocation of a man’s suspension for probation violations after finding the trial court did not err in ordering the man serve the remainder of his originally suspended sentence.

Jason B. Saunders pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated as a Class D felony in 2000, received a suspended sentence, and was placed on probation for two years. He was ordered to obey all laws and refrain from alcohol consumption. A month later, the state filed a notice of probation violation because Saunders never reported to the probation officer as ordered. An arrest warrant was issued the same day, and 11 years later, the warrant was expanded to include Tennessee.

Saunders was arrested in 2011 and had committed several offenses in Tennessee while on probation in Indiana. The trial court rejected his probation officer’s recommendation that he receive a 180-day sanction so that he could go back to Tennessee to face his probation penalties there using “Tennessee tax payers’ money.”

On appeal, Saunders claimed that the state’s 11-year delay in arresting him and pursuing the 2000 probation revocation matter amounted to a denial of his right to due process. He didn’t raise those arguments on the trial level, so the appellate court considered whether there was a fundamental error. Any prejudice that may have resulted to Saunders was because he fled from Indiana for 11 years. He admitted to all the violations and hasn’t shown his defense to the violations was impaired by the state’s delay in prosecution, wrote Judge John Baker.

Saunders’ violation of two conditions of his probation, which included committing several new offenses, justified the imposition of the entirety of his previously suspended three-year sentence, the judges held in Jason B. Saunders v. State of Indiana, No. 06A01-1111-CR-596.

 

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