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Entering a guilty plea is not a mitigating factor, COA rules

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Although a Shelby County man successfully argued that signing an “Advisement of Rights and Waiver” document did not bar him from appealing his sentence, he failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the trial court abused its discretion when sentencing him.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the aggregate sentence of 25 years executed and five years suspended in Ryan Westlake v. State of Indiana, 73A01-1209-CR-433.

Ryan Westlake had entered a plea agreement, pleading guilty to Class A felony child molesting and Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor, in exchange for having four other charges dismissed. As a mitigating factor, he pointed to his mental health issues.

However, in imposing the sentence, the trial court found the mitigating factor was equally countered by the aggravating factors of his criminal and juvenile record.

Westlake appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion because it did not use his guilty plea as a mitigating factor.

The state submitted that Westlake waived his right to appeal these issues because he signed the “Advisement of Rights and Waiver” document. This form was submitted to the court along with Westlake’s plea agreement.

The COA found that although Westlake waived his right to challenge his sentence pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B), the waiver provision does not specifically address abuse of discretion claims. Consequently, the court concluded that Westlake did not waive his abuse of discretion claim.

Still, the Court of Appeals ruled the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The COA noted Westlake gained a “substantial benefit” by pleading guilty because four additional charges were dismissed, three of which were felonies. In addition, Westlake admitted to having sexual intercourse with the two underage victims multiple times.


 

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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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