COA affirms sentence for man who violated drug court rules

February 24, 2017

A man who repeatedly violated the rules and regulations of a drug court program failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals his ensuing advisory nine-year sentence was inappropriate.

Keyshawn Sanders pleaded guilty to Level 3 felony dealing in cocaine and Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and was order to enter a drug court participation agreement. If he completed the program’s requirements, the state would dismiss the underlying charges.

However, one month later, Sanders was dismissed from a transitional living house for failing to comply with the rules. Also, he failed to attend another program. Consequently, the state filed a petition to terminate his drug court participation and the court sentenced to nine years with three years suspended to probation.

Although on appeal Sanders failed to argue that his sentence was inappropriate because of both his character and the nature of the offense, the Court of Appeals still considered his argument.

The appellate panel explained it was not supposed to determine if another sentence would have been more appropriate but whether the sentence imposed was inappropriate. It noted Sanders had drug convictions as a juvenile and adult, and that he admitted that he never took the requirements of the drug court seriously.

“While at sentencing he attempted to disclaim any attempt at manipulation, the trial court was not required to give credit to his self-serving justifications at the very moment when sentencing was imminent,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Keyshawn D. Sanders v. State of Indiana, 02A04-1608-CR-1903. “Given Sanders’ juvenile and adult criminal history and his refusal to take advantage of the rehabilitative services offered by drug court, we cannot say his sentence is inappropriate.”



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