ILNews

Justices order resentencing on habitual offender sentences

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The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday reversed the part of a White Superior Court’s sentencing order that a man who pleaded guilty to theft and being a habitual offender must serve his sentence consecutively with a case out of Tippecanoe County.

“In this case we conclude that the waiver of the right to appeal contained in a plea agreement is unenforceable where the sentence imposed is contrary to law and the Defendant did not bargain for the sentence,” Justice Robert Rucker wrote.

In Todd J. Crider v. State of Indiana, 91S05-1206-CR-306, Todd Crider appealed White Superior Judge Robert Mrzlack’s ruling that his three-year sentence for theft, enhanced by three years for the habitual offender adjudication, be served consecutively to the sentence imposed in Tippecanoe County. When Crider entered into his plea agreement in the White County case, he had been convicted in Tippecanoe County of theft, attempted fraud and found to be a habitual offender. He was ordered in that case to serve a partially suspended 545-day sentence.

When Crider entered into the plea agreement in White County, the trial court asked if Crider understood because of the Tippecanoe County convictions, part or all of his sentences may have to be served consecutively. Mrzlack concluded White entered the plea voluntarily and knowingly. The agreement also said Crider waived his right to appeal any sentence imposed within the range set forth in the plea agreement. But on the day of sentencing Crider argued that the habitual offender enhancement in White County couldn’t be ordered to be served consecutively with the habitual offender enhancement in Tippecanoe County. The trial court rejected his argument and ordered him to serve consecutive sentences in the two cases.

The state concedes there is a general rule that a trial court may not impose consecutive habitual offender enhancements, but that doesn’t apply in this case because a defendant may not enter into a plea agreement calling for an illegal sentence, benefit from it, and then complain it was illegal later.

But the plea agreement Crider entered into didn’t provide for an illegal sentence, so he is entitled to presume that the trial court would sentence him in accordance with the law, Rucker wrote.

“Crider’s waiver of appeal in his plea agreement therefore applied only to sentences imposed in accordance with the law,” he wrote. “Because the law does not permit the imposition of consecutive habitual offender sentences and Crider did not agree to consecutive habitual offender sentences, his waiver of appeal is thus invalid and his habitual offender sentences must be ordered to run concurrently.”

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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