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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. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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