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Nonsupport of dependent enhancement not based on number of children

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The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that under Indiana Code 35-46-1-5(a), the enhancement of nonsupport of a dependent child to a Class C felony because of an arrearage of $15,000 or more is triggered by the dollar amount owed, regardless of how many children the parent has.

The state had charged Amir Sanjari with two counts of Class D felony nonsupport of a dependent and two counts as Class C felonies because he owed more than $15,000 in child support for his two children. He was convicted on all counts but only sentenced on the Class C felonies. Sanjari believed the two Class C felony convictions should have “merged” into one under Indiana double jeopardy jurisprudence.

The Court of Appeals vacated one of his Class C felony convictions but affirmed in all other respects.

In Amir H. Sanjari v. State of Indiana, No. 20S03-1105-CR-268, Justice Brent Dickson analyzed the statute at issue and held that I.C. 35-46-1-5 allows for separate Class D felony convictions of nonsupport of a dependent child, but only one such offense may be enhanced to a Class C felony where the unpaid support for one or more children is $15,000 or more. The state argued that the statute allows for the enhancement for every $15,000 in nonsupport arrears, so if a parent with four children owed $60,000, he or she could be punished for four Class C felonies.

The same $15,000 was used to enhance both of Sanjari’s convictions, so the justices vacated the four convictions and ordered that he be convicted of and sentenced for one count of Class C felony nonsupport of a dependent for one child and Class D felony nonsupport with regards to the other child.

“For future clarification, however, we do not consider the attribution of separate $15,000 portions of the aggregate arrearage to separate dependent children a proper basis for seeking separate class C felony convictions as to each child. Such a technique might avoid the statutory construction rule of Richardson and Spivey proscribing multiple punishments for the same behavior or harm,” Dickson wrote. “But this prosecutorial maneuver would not satisfy the statutory basis for a class C felony nonsupport conviction, which requires that the aggregate, the ‘total’ amount, of unpaid support for all of the defendant's dependent children, whether one or more, equal or exceed $15,000.”

 

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  • "How to Enforce a Lazy County to do Their Job"
    I do beleive that I have tried it all. All that I know that it, in effort to get the county Paternity was established to enforce my son's father to pay child support. At one time, and this was the most effective approch, the court started ordering drop dead orders. Every 6-8 weeks he would have to appear on a set date just to show receipt of payment... far-fetched, depends.. How immature the person is. In this particular case maturity doesn't not exist, but mommmy does. I alwasy had this weird, crazy idea that the child support division was suposed to enforce the non-custodial parent to pay their court ordered child support. To my disbelief, not in this county. When asking why they don't enforce this, I get two answers; he has a review hearing set for, and we have 60 some thousand cases and a limited staff. This individual owes over 11,000.00 in arrears and still doesn't pay. Th reason I do not know the exact amount is because when I asked for the exact amount to be calculated, I was told they don't do that at every hearing. I have filed contempt's, used an attorney, another good, yet costly approach. Recently I filed another contempt, along with reason of why attached, very deatiled using Indiana IC codes. What do i get, a copy of one of the five original copies I sent. No hearing set, no notification,nothing. Then He's filing for custody of my son who he has not seen in three years due continued domestic battery on his wife and blames me. So much inaccuracy in what I received from this inaccuracy in this motion submitted to the court that I have valid proof of it. So my question.. What is my next step? I've contacted the state and filled out paperwork through the title IV-D services. nothing works. I need an order set that he has to much the court ordered child support by the last day of the moth, and if he fails, they have a work release center, bet he starts paying then. I an in the wonderful state of Indiana, however I do no live in that dreadful county anymore and haven't for years. Additionally, I am told that I cannot transfer this case because he still lives in that county. Comments and Suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!

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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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