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Statute doesn’t allow consecutive habitual offender sentences

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a man’s sentence for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, finding the trial court had no authority to order his present sentence, enhanced by the habitual substance offender statute, to be served consecutively to his previously enhanced sentences.

John Jacob Venters appealed his sentence referred to as Cause No. FD-011 in court records, in which he pleaded guilty to Class D felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He admitted to being a habitual substance offender. The trial court sentenced him to three years on the charge, enhanced by seven years because of the habitual substance offender statute. Two years of the executed sentence were suspended to probation. The sentence was ordered to be served consecutively to sentences imposed under Cause Nos. FB-024, FC-064, and FB-011. Those cases involve felony drug convictions as well as reckless homicide. He was also found to be a habitual substance offender and habitual offender in those cases.

In John Jacob Venters v. State of Indiana, 79A02-1305-CR-481, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and remanded for his sentence in the OVWI case to be served concurrently with the other sentences.

Absent express statutory authority to do so, trial courts cannot impose consecutive enhanced sentences, regardless of the circumstances under which they arise, Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote, citing Starks v. State, 523 N.E.2d 735 (Ind. 1988), and Aslinger v. State, 2 N.E.3d 84 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014).

“The habitual offender and habitual substance offender statutes have been amended several times since Starks. With those amendments, the statutes are still silent on a trial court’s authority to impose consecutive habitual offender sentences. Accordingly, we reverse and remand to the trial court with instructions to run Venters’s enhanced sentence at issue in this case concurrently with any previous sentence enhanced by the habitual offender or habitual substance offender statutes,” he wrote.
 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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