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

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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.”

 

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  1. It is amazing how selectively courts can read cases and how two very similar factpatterns can result in quite different renderings. I cited this very same argument in Brown v. Bowman, lost. I guess it is panel, panel, panel when one is on appeal. Sad thing is, I had Sykes. Same argument, she went the opposite. Her Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence is now decidedly unintelligible.

  2. November, 2014, I was charged with OWI/Endangering a person. I was not given a Breathalyzer test and the arresting officer did not believe that alcohol was in any way involved. I was self-overmedicated with prescription medications. I was taken to local hospital for blood draw to be sent to State Tox Lab. My attorney gave me a cookie-cutter plea which amounts to an ALCOHOL-related charge. Totally unacceptable!! HOW can I get my TOX report from the state lab???

  3. My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?

  4. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  5. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

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