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State’s inaction does not allow man to appeal sentence

September 16, 2014

The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a defendant’s claim that he should be given an opportunity to appeal his sentence, an option he waived by entering into a plea agreement, even though the trial court erroneously indicated he had a right to appeal and the state did not object to that advisement.

Brent Mechling entered into a plea agreement in which he would plead guilty to Class D felony invasion of privacy in exchange for three other charges being dropped. The agreement contained a waiver of his right to appeal his sentence, and sentencing was left to the trial court’s discretion.  The trial court sentenced Mechling to three years in prison.

At the end of the sentencing hearing, Wells Circuit Judge Kenton Kiracofe told Mechling he had a right to appeal his sentence. Neither the state nor defense counsel interjected to correct the trial court during this advisement nor objected to it.

In Brent A. Mechling v. State of Indiana, 90A02-1312-CR-1031, Mechling claimed he can appeal because the state failed to object at the hearing during the erroneous advisement and thus should be estopped from enforcing the plea agreement’s waiver provisions.

“The State has not, by deed or conduct, created any detriment to Mechling, nor did the State act in any way that could lead Mechling to rely on the State’s conduct for the proposition that he could appeal his sentence. The trial court’s advisement was made sua sponte, and there was no conduct whatsoever on the State’s part that would prevent Mechling from exercising any right he had. As Mechling readily acknowledges, the trial court’s mistaken advisement — and the State’s accompanying silence — did not affect the knowing or voluntary nature of his plea. There is no detrimental reliance on which Mechling can base an estoppel claim,” Judge Margret Robb wrote.


 

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