The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a trial court to send a corrected notice to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles that shows judgment was only entered on two of the four charges a man was convicted of related to his speeding in Brown County. The judges also suggested that the BMV update its form to avoid future confusion as shown in this case.
Alexander K. Jerden was convicted of two counts of misdemeanor reckless driving, one as a Class A misdemeanor and one as a Class B misdemeanor, as well as Class C infractions passing in a no-passing zone and speeding. Jerden and another vehicle were pulled over by police after reports of them speeding on S.R. 46. The officer testified he had to go nearly 100 MPH in order to catch the vehicles.
The trial court merged the infractions with the misdemeanor counts, but the BMV SR-16 forms transmitted by the trial court showed that Jerden was found guilty of all four counts, despite the two infractions being merged into the misdemeanor charges.
The appellate court affirmed his convictions but found the trial court erred when it submitted the forms in the current state because they included convictions in which the trial court did not enter a judgment.
“We must note, though, that the reason for this error seems to be the fact that the BMV’s SR-16 form does not track the statute. Although the statute requires trial courts to notify the BMV of only ‘convictions,’ the BMV’s form includes additional options to notify the BMV of ‘dismissed,’ ‘not guilty,’ ‘nolle prosecui[sic],’ ‘vacated,’ and ‘deferred’ charges,” Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote. “One problem with this format is that, because the form does not distinguish between guilty verdicts and verdicts that result in convictions, there is a potential for guilty verdicts that do not result in judgments of conviction to be entered into BMV records as convictions. This potential is problematic as the contents of the BMV’s records act as prima facie evidence for determining the legal consequences of future offenses.”
The appeals court recommended that the BMV update the form in order to avoid issues such as this one in the future.
The COA also rejected Jerden’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct, noting he did not object to the statements at trial and they do not rise to the level of fundamental error. The case is Alexander K. Jerden v. State of Indiana, 07A05-1410-CR-498.