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Trial court has no authority to alter man’s conviction

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An Elkhart Superior judge was correct in determining that he couldn’t reduce a man’s Class D felony conviction to a Class A misdemeanor a year after the original judgment was made, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

When Bryan Fields was charged and convicted of Class D felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated in 2010, the trial court stated that the conviction was entered conditionally subject to potential reduction to a misdemeanor provided certain criteria were met. When Fields petitioned a year later to have his conviction converted to the misdemeanor, Judge Charles Wicks determined he had no authority to do so based on State v. Brunner, 947 N.E.2d 411 (Ind. 2011).

The Court of Appeals agreed, pointing out Brunner held that Indiana Code 35-50-2-7(b) indicates that the Legislature intended to limit the trial court’s authority to reduce a Class D felony conviction to a Class A misdemeanor to the moment the trial court first enters its judgment of conviction and before it announces the sentence.

Fields improperly relied on I.C. 35-38-1-17 to support his argument because that statute only addresses the authority to reduce or suspend a sentence, not to convert a conviction, Judge Terry Crone wrote.

“While it may be equitable and desirable for the legislature to give a trial court discretion to modify a properly entered conviction like the conviction at issue here, at this time, the legislature has not given any such authority,” he wrote.

 

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