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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. 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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