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Plea agreement did not give court ability to impose restrictive probation

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A trial court went too far when it accepted a plea agreement then imposed a one-year term in work release as a condition of probation, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled.

Dexter Berry entered into a plea agreement, pleading guilty to a Class B felony burglary and several lesser offenses. Under the terms of the agreement, the court would impose a 10-year executed sentence and could require probation beyond the 10 years.

The court sentence Berry to a total of 15 years. Ten years were to be executed in prison and five years suspended with two of those years served on probation. Further, the court ordered Berry to spend the first year of his probation on work release.

After the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed by memorandum the decision, Berry sought transfer. The issue was whether the terms of his plea agreement gave the court the discretion to impose a restrictive placement as a condition of his probation.

The Indiana Supreme Court found Berry’s plea agreement leaves all aspects of the sentence to the discretion of the court. However, while Berry’s agreement grants the court the ability to determine where the defendant will serve his executed sentence, it is silent as to the court’s ability to impose any restrictive placement for probation.   

“With no clear grant of such authority in the agreement itself, no indication that any of the parties understood the plea agreement to confer such discretion, and a specific provision that implies the absence of discretion over the placement of Defendant’s probation, we must conclude that the trial court lacked authority to impose a punitive placement for Defendant’s probation,” Justice Loretta Rush wrote in Dexter Berry v. State of Indiana, 49S04-1406-CR-416.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson along with Justices Steven David and Mark Massa concurred. Justice Robert Rucker concurred in result.

 
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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