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Court rules on child support nonpayment case

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Just because someone doesn’t pay child support for more than one son or daughter doesn’t mean the person can be charged more than once for that criminal nonpayment if there’s only one support order issued.

The Indiana Court of Appeals issued a decision today in Amir H. Sanjari v. State of Indiana, No. 20A03-1007-CR-384, a dramatic child support case out of Elkhart County. The father and mother had married in London in 1982, moved to Switzerland before the couple’s two children were born and they later moved to the U.S. Sanjari worked as a nuclear physicist at Notre Dame and eventually went to work as a medical physicist at a cancer treatment center in Goshen before they divorced in 2000.

At first, they shared joint custody but the mother obtained sole custody in 2001 and a long legal battle on custody and support began. Sanjari sought relief from federal courts and agencies for several years alleging a “train of conspiracy” against him by his former wife and the state courts. During that time he was moving between states and refusing to pay his support at all. The state charged him with two counts of Class C felony nonsupport of a dependent child in October 2006 when the amount totaled $17,728, but he remained at large and was ultimately arrested in California and extradited to Indiana in March 2009.

Jailed during the legal proceedings, Sanjari received repeated continuances and refused appointed and standby counsel as he attempted to represent himself. At one point he held a hunger strike in protest and a guardian ad litem was appointed. He eventually told the trial court he felt ill and couldn’t attend a pretrial hearing, and he tried to have an attorney from Ohio and Washington D.C. represent him. But that lawyer wasn’t licensed here and despite the court’s notice and repeated attempts to assist Sanjari, that out-of-state counsel wasn’t admitted and the hearing date arrived in late 2009. Sanjari complained of an ear infection in prison and the court held the hearing in his absence.

That became a part of the appeal when Sanjari argued the trial court erred in holding that hearing, but the Court of Appeals disagreed and said the man had received enough notice and there wasn’t evidence that he could not have attended.

Ruling against the father on nearly all of his points, the Court of Appeals did find in his favor on the issue of whether the double jeopardy prohibition had been violated by the two felony child support charges. Sanjari argued that only one child support order had been issued and it included both of his minor children, so he shouldn’t have been charged or convicted twice.

Analyzing Indiana Code Section 35-46-1-5(a), the appellate panel noted that the law says a person can be charged with a class C felony if the total amount of unpaid child support is at least $15,000 and is owed for one or more children.

The court vacated his second Class C felony nonsupport count, but affirmed the five-year sentence on the first one.
 

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  • Child Support
    How do I get results like that? My ex-wife owes me in excess of $50,000. My case has been with the Allen County prosecutors office for over 3 yrs now. The last payment she made was in september 2010. She has filed a motion for relief of judgement.. What does that mean exactly?

    Thanks
  • child support
    Was your case in Elkhart... can you tell me some details? My husband is in jail for non-support and awaiting his court dates. I am wondering if they're still doing the two charge thing ... on the court document they sent here has two instances listed (as if they're two seperate issues).
  • two felonies
    i was convicted the same way. cani sue?mikejewel48@yahoo.com
    • USA Police State
      This Story is all over world.

      The USA has a well earned reputation of being a police state. Even for the most minor infraction, you can go to jail for years....

      The USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world and stand with Iran as it's only partner in trying juveniles as adults.

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    1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

    2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

    3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

    4. I am sorry to hear this.

    5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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