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COA reverses sentencing on grounds it exceeded statutory maximum

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The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a defendant that her sentence for a Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana exceeded the statutory maximum and remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing.

After a search of her home in July 2010, Kathleen Peterink was charged with possession of cocaine or narcotic drug as a Class D felony and possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor. She pleaded guilty to the second count and the state dismissed the first.

On Nov. 1, 2011, the trial court in Noble County sentenced Peterink to one year of imprisonment, suspended to probation. As a special condition of probation, Peterink had to serve six months in home detention for which she would not receive good time credit.

 Peterink argued that her sentence exceeded the statutory maximum for a Class A misdemeanor. She cited Jennings v. State in support of her view that the trial court gave her a two-year sentence by sentencing her to one year suspended and one year probation.

The state did not challenge Peterink’s reliance upon Jennings but asked the court to revisit the issue addressed by Jennings with regard to misdemeanor sentencing.

Noting that Jennings holds the term of imprisonment to include both the executed and suspended portions of a sentence, the court agreed with Peterink. It reversed the sentence imposed by the trial court and remanded for resentencing.

In his dissenting opinion, Judge Michael Barnes stated he would not follow the Jennings holding. He wrote that Peterink’s sentence does not exceed the statutory maximum, saying such an interpretation would “fundamentally disrupt the sentencing practices of trial courts.”  

The court also reversed the trial court’s order that Peterink serve six months of home detention without receiving good-time credit. Citing an ambiguity in the state code, the court ruled that a “fair reading of the statutes taken together” leads to Peterink being entitled to good time credit.


 

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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