ILNews

Statute’s language gives courts discretion when reviewing petitions to reduce Class D felony to a misdemeanor

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A Hancock County man will not have his felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the state statute gives the courts the freedom to decide whether to grant or deny a petition.

John Alden appealed the trial court’s denial of his petition to reduce his Class D felony conviction for operating while intoxicated to a Class A misdemeanor. The COA affirmed, finding the lower court did not abuse its discretion in John Alden v. State of Indiana, 30A01-1209-CR-412. 

On June 1, 1993, Alden pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated, a Class D felony, and was sentenced to 730 days, with 90 days served as in-home detention and the balance on informal probation. On July 13, 2012, he filed a petition seeking to reduce his felony convictions to a Class A misdemeanor. He asserted, among other things, he had not been convicted of a felony since the completion of his sentence.

However, while Alden was on probation, the state filed three petitions alleging that he had either failed to appear for random drug screens or pay his fees. Also, at his hearing to consider his petition, he acknowledged he had pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Illinois in either 1997 or 1998.

At appeal, Alden argued his petition should have been granted and the evidence was sufficient to show that he met all of the statutory requirements for a reduction of his felony conviction.  

The COA turned its attention to the statute covering the sentencing range for Class D felonies. It concluded the Indiana General Assembly adopted a policy wherein trial courts can reward good behavior by removing the stigma of certain Class D felony convictions. However because the language includes the word “may” instead of “shall,” the statute does not create a right to the reduction.

“The word ‘may’ shows an intent by the legislature to give trial courts the discretion to grant or deny a petition, even if all of the statutory requirements have been met by the Petitioner,” Judge Rudolph Pyle wrote for the court. “While it is best for trial courts to keep in mind the policy preference of rewarding good behavior with a reduction on a Class D felony conviction to a  Class A misdemeanor, trial courts are free to deny a petition as long as the denial is supported by the logic and effect of the facts.”

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

ADVERTISEMENT