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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. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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