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Trial court should decide educational credit time

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A trial court judge should be the one to determine whether a defendant who completes an educational degree before sentencing is entitled to educational credit time, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In David K. Murphy v. State of Indiana, No. 18S02-1103-CR-142, David Murphy appealed the decision by the trial court that his request for educational credit time should be submitted to the Indiana Department of Correction. Murphy received his GED while in pretrial confinement in jail awaiting sentencing following his guilty plea to Class B felony aggravated battery.

Murphy believed the trial court is the proper authority to decide if he should receive educational credit time. The statute dealing with this topic doesn’t specify who has authority to rule upon an initial request for educational credit time. The trial judge thought the DOC had the authority, and the state argued the jailing authority should make that determination.

The justices agreed with the Indiana Court of Appeals that the trial court is in the best position to determine whether that credit time should be granted for a degree earned prior to sentencing. They concurred with Judge Terry Crone’s writing for that court, which reasoned that the trial court initially determines the sentence and the amount of credit time at sentencing. Also in this situation, the defendant didn’t earn the degree under the supervision of the DOC.

The justices granted transfer Thursday and adopted the COA’s opinion in full. They reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings.

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