ILNews

Court orders new sentence for child support nonpayer

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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An Indiana Court of Appeals panel found itself today determining the legislature's intent in revising a statute on nonpayment of child support, an issue it describes as having little to no precedent.

Though its analysis ended with little answer, the appellate court applied the doctrine of amelioration to conclude a defendant should receive a lower class of felony on nonpayment of about $13,000 in child support from Class C to Class D.

The decision released today is Bobby Lee Turner, Jr. v. State of Indiana, No. 48A02-0610-CR-924, which reverses and remands a ruling by Madison Superior Judge Thomas Newman Jr.

Turner was ordered in 1992 to make weekly child support payments, but when he stopped paying in July 2000 he owed about $13,296. The state charged him with nonsupport of a dependent child, a Class C felony, but his trial was rescheduled and continued for six years until June 2006. He didn't appear at trial, was found guilty, and sentenced a month later to two years in-home detention and four years probation.

On appeal, Turner argued that his sentence should have been a Class D felony for three years because, by the time of his sentencing, the General Assembly had amended Indiana Code §35-46-1-5(a) in 2001 to require debts more than $15,000 be classified as a class C felony. Even though Turner didn't raise the issue previously and could be waived for review, the appellate judges decided to address the issue on its merits because of the little precedent on point.

The difference: a range of 6 months to 3 years for a Class D felony compared to the 2 to 8 years for a Class C felony.

"Here, there is no express language or saving clause in the statute to guide us as to whether or not the legislature intended defendants charged under the old law to be sentenced under the new law," the court wrote, citing that as one example to apply the revised statute.
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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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