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Appeals court finds judge complied with credit-restricted felon statute

December 29, 2016

In an issue of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that an Elkhart Superior judge’s advisement to a convicted child molester that she is a credit-restricted felon substantially complied with statute.

Angela Neal was found guilty in April of two counts of Class A felony child molesting. Elkhart Superior Judge Teresa Cataldo advised Neal that she was a credit-restricted felon based on the age of her victims and sentenced her to consecutive sentences of 30 years for each of the convictions. Cataldo also told Neal that she was granting her 444 days credit for time served prior to sentencing and that the court found no reason why Neal should not receive earned credit time at the credit-restricted felon status.

In Angela R. Neal v. State of Indiana, 20A04-1606-CR-1326, Neal argued that Cataldo’s advisement of the consequences of Neal’s status as a credit-restricted felon did not comply with Ind.Code 35-38-1-7.8(c). Under Indiana statute, a person can earn no good time credit or credit for every one, two, or six days imprisoned or while awaiting trial or sentencing. Assignment to a particular credit-time class depends on whether a defendant is a credit-restricted felon; if so, he or she may only earn one day of credit for every six days imprisoned or awaiting trial or sentencing.

“[I]n requiring the sentencing court to ‘advise the defendant of the consequences’ of her status as a credit-restricted felon, Section 7.8(c) requires the sentencing court to advise the defendant that there is a relationship between her status and the accrual of her credit time. There is no particular language that the court must use to satisfy Section 7.8(c),” Judge Edward Najam wrote. “As long as the sentencing court’s advisement makes clear to the defendant that it is her status as a credit-restricted felon that determines the calculation of her credit time, the court has satisfied the command of Section 7.8(c). The trial court did that here.”
 

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