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COA split on whether judge can order community service in lieu of fines

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Two judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals decided that a trial judge didn’t have statutory authority to order an indigent woman to perform community service instead of paying fines and costs of her case, ordering the court to address the issue of imposing fees and costs.

Amanda Vaughn agreed to plead guilty to Class A misdemeanor criminal trespass, and her plea gave Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown discretion as to fines and costs. The court found Vaughn to be indigent and ordered community service in lieu of fines and costs. She later sought the fine instead, which the judge imposed as $165 in costs and $10 in fines. But after Vaughn filed a motion to reconsider, the trial court vacated the order Vaughn pay and again ordered 40 hours of community service, but she would not be jailed for failing to perform the service.

Vaughn argued that the trial court didn’t have the authority under the plea agreement to impose community service. The Court of Appeals decided it had to determine whether ordering community service in lieu of fines and costs is statutorily authorized.

In Amanda Vaughn v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1207-CR-544, judges Michael Barnes and Patricia Riley found there to be a lack of statutory authority, finding the statutes the state cited in support of the judge to be irrelevant in this case. In remanding the case they reminded the trial court that the Indiana Supreme Court has held “when fines or costs are imposed upon an indigent defendant, such a person may not be imprisoned for failure to pay the fines or costs.”

Judge John Baker disagreed, believing the trial court may exercise its discretion by suspending fines and costs and that ordering Vaughn to perform community services instead was reasonable. He also disagreed with his colleagues that the statutes cited by the state don’t support the ability to impose community service instead of fines and costs.

 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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