Indiana appellate courts can take into account the potential consequences of an offender’s status as a credit restricted felon when reviewing a sentence, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
Michael Sharp appealed his convictions and sentence for one count of Class A felony child molesting and one count as a Class C felony. He was sentenced to 40 years, but because he was assigned to class IV for purposes of credit time, his minimum possible sentence would be a little more than 34 years.
In Michael Sharp v. State of Indiana, 12S02-1109-CR-544, the justices only focused on Sharp’s argument that the Indiana Court of Appeals should have considered his credit restricted felon status when evaluating his request for appellate sentence review under Indiana Appellate Rule 7. The Court of Appeals panel said it wouldn’t take into account a person’s credit restricted felon status because “credit time is set by the legislature and is not a discretionary tool used by the trial court judge.”
The Supreme Court disagreed on this point, holding that credit time status may be considered by an appellate court exercising its review and revise authority.
Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote that Appellate Rule 7(B) authorizes appellate courts to review and revise the totality of penal consequences ordered by the trial court to determine its appropriateness. “Accordingly, evaluation of a defendant's sentence may include consideration of the defendant's credit time status because this penal consequence was within the contemplation of the trial court when it was determining the defendant's sentence,” he wrote.
The justices found that even considering his assigned credit time status, Sharp’s sentence is not inappropriate because he was in a position of trust with his victim and evidence at trial demonstrated that Sharp committed the offenses multiple times over a period of years.