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COA finds trial court’s error in sentencing was harmless

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A trial court’s error in considering an arrest record as evidence of criminal history was harmless, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled, because the aggravators and mitigators would have led the lower court to impose the same sentence.

Dennis Vermillion was convicted of two counts of Class C felony sexual misconduct with a minor after an incident in 2009 with his friend’s 14-year-old daughter, S.H. The court sentenced Vermillion to eight years – five years executed and three years suspended to probation – on each count, to run consecutively, for a total sentence of 16 years.

In Dennis Vermillion v. State of Indiana, 13A01-1201-CR-17, Vermillion appealed and the COA affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for resentencing.

On his appeal, Vermillion raised numerous arguments regarding his sentence. He claimed the trial court erred in ordering consecutive rather than concurrent sentences. Also, he argued his total 16-year sentence exceeds the statutory cap for consecutive sentences and his sentence is inappropriate.

The COA found the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering consecutive sentences based on the facts of this case where two separate and distinct crimes were committed against S.H.

However, the COA found that the trial court did abuse its discretion by imposing a sentence greater than what is allowed by the statute. The court pointed out that because it is undisputed that Vermillion’s convictions are violent crimes and that his crimes constitute a single episode of criminal conduct, his sentence cannot exceed the advisory 10-year sentence for a Class B felony.

In regards to the appropriateness of his sentence, Vermillion argues that the trial court improperly considered past charged offenses that were dismissed as part of a plea agreement as well as uncharged misconduct as aggravators.

Again, the COA found the trial court erred in considering Vermillion’s arrest record as evidence of his criminal history. The Indiana Supreme Court has held that a record of arrest, without more, may not be properly considered as evidence of criminal history.

Yet, the COA concluded the error was harmless since the evidence may be considered as it relates to Vermillion’s character. Further, it believes the lower court would have imposed the same sentence in light of the remaining aggravators and mitigators.


 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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