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Appeals court declines to revise battery sentence

April 28, 2015

Even though a trial court did not specify why it imposed consecutive sentences for a man convicted of two counts of battery – one as a Level 6 felony and the other a Class A misdemeanor – the Indiana Court of Appeals found the rationale for consecutive sentences is apparent on the face of the record.

Zachery L. Lewis was convicted of Level 6 felony battery for burning his girlfriend’s thigh with a hot hair straightening tool while she slept and the misdemeanor charge for pushing his girlfriend’s friend to the ground, causing injury. The incidents occurred in the same day, but approximately 14 hours apart. Lewis was sentenced to 2 ½ years for the felony and one year for the misdemeanor, to be served consecutively.

In Zachary L. Lewis v. State of Indiana, 35A05-1410-CR-496, Lewis argued the two batteries constitute an episode of criminal conduct, and as such, his maximum sentence imposed should have been three years. But I.C. 35-50-1-2(c) only applies to sentencing for multiple felony convictions, so even if Lewis’ offenses constituted an episode of criminal conduct – which they do not – the statutory sentencing limit would not apply, Judge Edward Najam wrote.

And although the trial court’s written statement did not explain why it imposed the enhanced sentence or consecutive sentences, the COA upheld Lewis’ sentence. At the end of his sentencing hearing, the judge stated he was instituting the sentence based on Lewis’ criminal history, which supports the imposition of the enhanced sentence for the Level 6 felony. But the trial court did not specify why it imposed the consecutive sentences.

“Given Lewis’ extensive criminal history, including four probation violations, and the fact that Lewis committed batteries against two victims, we are confident that the trial court would have imposed the same sentence had it more fully articulated its reasons for imposing consecutive sentences. And we need not remand for resentencing if we can say with confidence that the trial court would have imposed the same sentence had it properly considered reasons that enjoy support in the record,” Najam wrote.

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