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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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