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Judges affirm restitution order, sentence following deadly crash

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A man who was speeding and under the influence of alcohol when his car struck another, killing the driver and severely injuring the passenger, will have to make restitution to the victims, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Jose Guzman pleaded guilty to Class C felony reckless homicide in exchange for prosecutors dropping several other charges stemming from the accident. His blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was 0.20. The wreck killed Charity Bland and injured Richie Austin.

The trial court accepted Guzman’s plea and sentenced him to eight years in the Department of Correction and that he pay $4,510.65 to the estate of Bland and $20,631.76 to Austin.

In Jose Guzman v. State of Indiana, 54A01-1209-CR-409, Guzman raised numerous issues on appeal, including that he shouldn’t have to pay restitution to Austin because he was not a victim of the crime to which he pleaded guilty, and that his sentence was inappropriate. The Court of Appeals found Austin qualified as a victim under Indiana Code 35-50-5-3(a) and that the trial judge had evidence submitted by Austin’s attorney breaking down the total of Austin’s restitution claim by amount and to whom the amount was due for medical expenses.

Guzman also challenged some of the aggravating factors considered by the trial court, such as the fact his actions resulted in bodily injury to another person and his illegal status. The judges cited Bethea v. State, 983 N.E.2d 1134 (Ind. 2013), to point out that the plea bargain agreed to did not contain any language foreclosing the trial court from considering the facts and circumstances relating to the dismissed charges. They also reiterated that the COA has concluded that an individual’s unlawful immigration status is a valid aggravating factor because it demonstrates a disregard for the law.

“In light of Guzman’s actions, which included driving a vehicle at a high rate of speed with a BAC of 0.20 and getting into an accident with another vehicle, leaving one person dead and another severely injured; Guzman’s criminal history, which included a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated; and Guzman’s attempt to shift blame for the accident to the deceased victim, we cannot say that his eight-year sentence is inappropriate,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote.

 

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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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