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Man must pay to clean up meth mess, court affirms

March 31, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled a man must pay to clean up the remnants of his meth lab after it found Indiana Code justified the payment and there was a victim to whom restitution should be paid.

Jack Fisher was arrested in 2014 after he was found driving a vehicle that contained a meth lab. He was charged with Class A felony dealing in methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty to Class B felony attempted dealing in methamphetamine after a plea agreement and as part of his sentence was forced to pay restitution in the amount of $1,432.49 for cleaning up his meth lab. Fisher appealed the restitution order.

The COA said there’s a conflict between case law, which says restitution cannot be ordered unless it is included in the plea agreement, and Ind. Code 35-48-4-17, which says trial courts shall order restitution for cleanup of meth labs. However, the COA said plea agreements are contractual in nature and a contract must be construed as having been made in the contemplation of applicable law. Fisher’s plea agreement was entered into in 2015, well after the Indiana Code was adopted, and therefore Fisher should have to pay.

Fisher argued there was no victim to whom restitution is owed, but the COA said restitution is required by Indiana Code, and the clean-up team was the victim.

The case is Jack Fisher v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1509-CR-1373.

 

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