COA rules trial court cannot exceed scope of plea agreement

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A man will have to serve his full sentence, but the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled since his plea agreement makes no mention of restitution, he will not have to pay.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence but reversed a restitution order in Adam Morris v. State of Indiana, 14A05-1209-CR-495.

Adam Morris was charged in October 2009 with Class C felony causing death while operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol equivalent of 0.08 or more. His fiancée, Jennifer Celeste, died of injuries she sustained when the ATV Morris was driving was involved in an accident with another ATV. A blood test later indicated Morris had a BAC of 0.158.

In July 2012, Morris agreed to plead guilty to the lesser included offense of Class A misdemeanor operating while intoxicated. The agreement noted he would be sentenced at the discretion of the court, but it made no mention of restitution.

Subsequently, the trial court sentenced Morris to a term of one year, full executed. It also ordered Morris to pay $14,972.45 to Celeste’s family as restitution related to her funeral expenses.

Morris appealed, in part, challenging the restitution order. He asserted the order improperly applies to the Class C felony charge that was dismissed.

In considering Morris’ argument, the COA pointed to a “more fundamental problem.” Specifically, the plea agreement made no mention of whether the defendant could be ordered to pay restitution.

The COA reversed the order that Morris pay, ruling that when a plea agreement is silent on the issue of restitution, a trial court may not order the defendant to pay as part of the sentence. Such an order would exceed the scope of the plea agreement.



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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.