Bill would alter plea agreement, sentencing requirements

January 5, 2017

Judges would no longer be required to advise criminal defendants of the earliest and latest possible release dates under legislation introduced in the Indiana Senate. The legislation also would strike language that shields rejected plea agreements and proceedings from the official court record.

Those are the provisions of Senate Bill 120 authored by Sen. Eric Koch, R- Bedford.

The bill would amend I.C. 35-35-3-3 by striking current law reading, “Neither the content of the plea agreement, the presentence report, nor the hearing shall be a part of the official record of the case unless the court approves the plea agreement.”

The bill also proposes removing a requirement of I.C. 35-38-1-1 that reads, “When the court pronounces the sentence, the court shall advise the person that the person is sentenced for not less than the earliest release date and for not more than the maximum possible release date.”

The bill comes after two of the three judges on a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals in August asked the Legislature to take a look at I.C. 35-38-1-1(b), which Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in the opinion “imposes an impracticable burden on our trial courts.”

A hearing on SB 120 is scheduled before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11. The panel also will hear SB 37 regarding certifications of breath tests, and SB 42, which extends the $1 pro bono legal services fee collected on civil, small claims and probate case filings. The fee had been scheduled to sunset in July, but is proposed to be extended for another five years.


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