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Trial court must properly exercise discretion on sentencing

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Although a trial court had the ability to deny a man credit for time served, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the lower court did not follow proper procedure when it granted actual days credit.

The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the trial court’s attempt to give Peter Roberts day-for-day credit against his sentence in Peter A. Roberts v. State of Indiana, 10A05-1301-CR-35. It also affirmed the lower court’s decision not to award Roberts good-time credit for time served on pre-trial home detention.

After being convicted of battery, intimidation and criminal confinement, Roberts was sentenced to six years in the Indiana Department of Correction and granted 67 days for actual time served while incarcerated prior to trial.

Roberts immediately filed a motion to correct error. The trial court’s amended judgment of conviction and sentence granted Roberts “409 actual days credit against his sentence comprised of 97 days in jail and 305 days for credit granted for house arrest detention prior to trial.”

On appeal, Roberts argued the trial court erred by halving his credit for actual time served with the expectation that the DOC would award him good-time credit for each day, thus having the practical effect of giving him credit for 610 days rather than 611.

The Court of Appeals noted the trial court has the discretion to assign Roberts credit against his sentence for the 611 days he spent in home detention but the method the court used created two problems.

First, by only assigning Roberts credit for 305 actual days served, with the expectation that the DOC would double that number, the trial court’s decision had the practical effect of giving Roberts credit for 610 days, rather than 611 days. Second, in accordance with Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783,789-92 (Ind. 2004), if a trial court wishes to deny a defendant credit, it must put it in the sentencing judgment.

“To properly deny Roberts two-for-one credit time and instead give him credit only for the actual number of days spent on pre-trial home detention, the trial court should have granted him 611 days actually served against his sentence and expressly denied him any credit time under Ind. Code 35-50-6-3 for those days,” Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote for the court. “Alternately, should the trial court wish to deny Roberts credit for any or all of the 611 days, it would be within its discretion to do so…but again it would need to report the denial in its sentencing judgment.”
 

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