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COA reverses guilty plea to Class A felony child molesting

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Because a defendant repeatedly maintained his innocence to Class A felony child molesting at his guilty plea hearing but also pleaded guilty to the charge, the trial court erred in accepting his plea, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In James R. Johnson v. State of Indiana, No. 44A04-1105-PC-264, James Johnson was charged with Class A felony child molesting for allegedly using his tongue to touch the vagina of a girl under the age of 14. At his guilty plea hearing, Johnson said he would plead guilty to the charge, but he denied touching her with his tongue. He claimed he only used his hand, which would have been a Class C felony.

The trial court accepted his guilty plea, found him to be a habitual offender, and sentenced him to 30 years for child molesting and a 30-year enhancement for his habitual-offender status.

The Court of Appeals reversed, pointing out that caselaw has insisted that a factual basis must exist for a guilty plea and a judge may not accept a guilty plea while a defendant claims actual innocence. During the hearing, Johnson consistently maintained his innocence to Class A felony child molesting. Although he did admit to Class C felony child molesting for touching the child’s vagina with his hand, the trial court accepted the guilty plea and entered a judgment of conviction for a Class A felony.

The trial court may accept Johnson’s guilty plea to the Class C felony or set the matter for trial on the Class A felony, the appellate court held.

 

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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