Appeals court affirms reinstatement of drug sentence

June 17, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the reinstatement of a woman’s sentence after she was terminated from drug court, finding a request for new counsel she made was too late and a stay of her drug court supervision was meant to help her, not harm her.

Jayme Dollens pleaded guilty to three counts of Class B felony dealing in a narcotic and one count of Level 5 dealing in a narcotic. However, the trial court agreed to stay her 20-year sentence if she completed drug court. A few months later, a new criminal case was entered against Dollens and the drug court stayed its supervision so she could deal with the new charges.

Dollens gave urine samples in May and June 2015, which tested positive for benzodiazepines and suboxone, for which she didn’t have prescriptions. The drug court manager then filed a notice of termination of Dollens’ participation in drug court.

On the day of an evidentiary hearing, Dollens requested new counsel, saying she did not want the public defender assigned to her, the same that represented her on her drug charges. The trial court denied the motion and imposed the rest of her 20-year sentence. Dollens appealed, charging the court breached her Sixth Amendment rights by not letting her choose her own attorney, and the state breached its plea agreement with her resulting in an involuntary plea.

In an opinion written by Judge John Baker, the COA ruled that Dollens did not raise a constitutional argument to the denial of her request for new counsel and waived the argument on appeal. However, even if she hadn’t, Dollens had three weeks in which to find a new lawyer and didn’t do it. She knew who would represent her and did not take action, so the trial court did not err when it denied her request anyway.

Dollens also argued that because the Drug Court stayed supervision of her while she was under the supervision of Hamilton County probation she did not have the opportunity to participate in the court, which was afforded to her by the plea agreement. The court noted that to challenge this, she would have had to file a petition for post-conviction relief, but waiver notwithstanding, her challenge would have failed anyway.

“(W)e note that a Drug Court employee testified at the hearing that the reason it stayed its direct supervision of Dollens was so that she would not have to face double monitoring by two counties simultaneously. If anything, this simplification of obligations and requirements to fulfill was designed to help Dollens succeed,” Baker wrote.

The case is Jayme Michelle Dollens v. State of Indiana, 48A04-1510-CR-1707.



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