The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday that offenders may not be ordered to participate in the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, reversing a sentence and remanding to the trial court for a restitution hearing.
Keron Rodgers led Elkhart police on a chase through a residential neighborhood a year ago before he crashed into a house and fled on foot. He was caught a short time later, charged with Level 6 felony resisting law enforcement and misdemeanor counts of resisting law enforcement, leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a license.
A jury convicted Rodgers on all charges and he was sentenced to a 180-day executed sentence and ordered to pay restitution through VOPR, to which he had not agreed but didn’t object.
“The trial court erred by ordering Rodgers to participate in VORP instead of conducting a hearing about restitution because the order that he participate in VORP was not permissible under the statutes creating VORP,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the panel in a five-page opinion.
May noted the panel took Rodgers’ argument on its merits and cited the plain language of I.C. 35-40-6-4(9) adopted in 1999. The VORP legislation allows victim-offender reconciliation “if the accused person or the offender agrees.”
“Rodgers did not agree to participate in VORP negotiations. We therefore reverse the order that he participate in VORP and remand to the trial court for a restitution hearing,” the panel concluded in Keron D. Rodgers v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1412-CR-438.