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Pro se defendant wins reversal of restitution order

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A defendant ordered to repay more than $19,000 that a drug task force spent to investigate his methamphetamine manufacturing will not have to make restitution because the state isn’t a victim under the restitution statute, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In Jim A. Edsall v. State of Indiana, 57A03-1205-CR-240, Jim Edsall appealed the imposition of six 30-year concurrent sentences of imprisonment in the Department of Correction following his guilty plea to five counts of Class A felony delivery of meth and one count of Class A felony conspiracy to manufacture meth and a restitution order. The charges stemmed from an undercover drug operation that infiltrated Edsall’s manufacturing operation.

Edsall’s guilty plea did not make any reference to restitution, nor was there any reference of it at the guilty plea hearing. At a later sentencing hearing, the state sought $19,581.40 to recover costs of the investigation. Edsall’s counsel didn’t expressly object to the restitution being sought at any point. The trial court imposed the restitution order and the concurrent 30 year-sentences.

The Court of Appeals rejected Edsall’s arguments that the trial court abused its discretion by considering improper aggravating circumstances and failing to consider mitigating ones, and that his sentence was inappropriate based on his character and the nature of the offense and should be revised to 15 years.

But the judges agreed with Edsall that the trial court erred in ordering him to pay restitution. Citing Green v. State, 811 N.E.2d 874, 877 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), they held that the state is not a victim as contemplated by the restitution statute, Ind. Code 35-50-5-3, so the restitution order wasn’t proper.

 

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