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COA affirms escape conviction in home detention case

January 11, 2018

A person’s home is considered a “place of lawful detention” if the person has been sentenced to home detention, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday in a decision that upheld a woman’s felony escape conviction.

In Amber Keith v. State of Indiana, 32A01-1709-CR-2011, Amber Keith was ordered to serve 180 days on home detention for an escape conviction, though a Thursday Indiana Court of Appeals opinion notes the record is devoid of information about the crime that led to that sentence. Pursuant to the home detention order, Keith could only leave to attend probation appointments and have her monitoring device maintained.

However, the same day Keith was fitted with the monitoring device, she defied orders to go directly home and instead was tracked to numerous other locations. Her home detention officer sent messages to her monitoring unit to call him immediately, but she also defied those orders.

The anklet then lost power for roughly six hours, resulting in the home detention office being unable to track Keith’s movements. As a result, the Hendricks Superior Court found Keith guilty of Level 6 felony failure to return to lawful detention and ordered her to serve 180 days of incarceration, with credit for time served.

On appeal, Keith argued her home cannot be considered a place of “lawful detention,” but the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed, with Judge Melissa May writing that Keith “was ordered to be detained in her home similar to any prisoner in a formal jail or prison”. Thus, Keith’s home was a place of lawful detention for purposes of her home detention, and she “escaped” by failing to go home when ordered to do so, May wrote.

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