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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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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