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Court affirms sentence for non-support of 8 kids

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A trial court didn't err in imposing three consecutive sentences following a man's guilty plea to three counts of felony non-support of a dependent because his failure to pay didn't constitute a single episode of criminal activity, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

Charles D. Gilliam appealed his 24-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to three counts of Class C felony non-support of a dependent, following his failure to pay child support for his eight children with three different women. Gilliam believed his failure to pay support between Jan. 1, 2001, and December 21, 2004, was just one bad act and arose from a single episode of criminal conduct.

In Charles Dwayne Gilliam v. State of Indiana, No. 71A03-0808-CR-420, the Court of Appeals disagreed with Gilliam's arguments and his reliance on Boss v. State, 702 N.E.2d 782 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998). Boss was charged with non-support of his minor children in 1996; the time periods noted in the charging information were three successive time periods, each separated by a single day. His consecutive sentences were overturned because the charging information alleged his non-support occurred over "contiguous" or successive periods over a short period of time.

But Gilliam's offenses don't constitute a single episode of crime, and he seems to confuse continuous obligation to pay child support with the concept of multiple events constituting a "single episode of conduct," wrote Judge Carr Darden. The charge of his failure to pay child support for three children from one mother can be related without reference in anyway to the details of his failure to pay for his children in the other two counts, wrote the judge.

Judge Michael Barnes concurred in result with the majority but believed it wasn't accurate to analyze Gilliam's arguments regarding consecutive sentencing on the basis of whether his multiple convictions for not paying child support constituted a "single episode of criminal conduct." Instead, he believed it would be sufficient to say consecutive sentences are permissible and justified in the instant case because of the existence of multiple victims.

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