Court upholds sentence but orders judgment corrected

April 14, 2015

A man sentenced for rape and other crimes in 1989 sought to have his sentence corrected nearly 25 years later, but the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court that the sentence imposed did not need revised. 

Paul Woodcox was convicted and sentenced to 150 years total for Class A felony rape, Class A felony attempted murder and Class B felony criminal confinement. He was also found to be a habitual offender. The sentence was later revised to 100 years after Woodcox directly appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court. 
After his quest for post-conviction relief was denied in 1997, Woodcox filed a motion to correct erroneous sentence in 2014, which the trial court denied. 
The abstract of judgment and trial court’s written sentencing order states that Woodcox was convicted of Class B felony rape. He argued that the sentence imposed is erroneous because his 50-year sentence for rape exceeds the statutory maximum for a Class B felony, which is 20 years. 
Judge Patricia Riley noted that Woodcox carefully omitted from the appellate record any documents that might indicated he was convicted of a Class A felony rather than Class B felony rape, but he cited the Supreme Court opinion that affirmed his rape conviction as a Class A felony. 
“Woodcox was adjudged guilty of a Class A felony – which merits a fifty-year sentence, but the entry of judgment mistakenly refers to a Class B felony. Thus, it is an error of form rather than substance. If we were to hold that Indiana Code section 35-38-1-15 requires correction of Woodcox’s sentence when the error is in the entry of the judgment of conviction, Woodcox would receive a sentencing windfall based on a clerical error – i.e., he would get the benefit of a Class B felony sentence on a Class A felony conviction,” Riley wrote in Paul D. Woodcox v. State of Indiana, 15A05-1410-CR-468. 
“The interests of justice demand that he serve the sentence for the Class A felony that he committed. Therefore, we find the appropriate remedy is to remand with instructions for the trial court to make a nunc pro tunc correction of the clerical error contained in both the sentencing judgment and the abstract of judgment to accurately reflect that Woodcox was convicted of Class A felony rape, for which he was properly sentenced.”

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