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Week after argument, justices uphold denial of continuance, sentence

February 23, 2018

A Floyd County man convicted of attempted residential entry and resisting law enforcement lost his appeal of his sentence and the denial of his motion for a continuance. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s ruling only one week after hearing oral arguments in the case.

After fleeing police on foot and attempting to enter a stranger’s home without permission, Jacob Robinson was convicted pursuant to two plea agreements to attempted residential entry and resisting law enforcement, as Class D and Level 6 felonies, respectively, and he admitted to being a habitual substance offender. The Floyd Circuit Court scheduled Robinson’s case for a sentencing hearing and instructed him to meet with the probation department for a presentence investigation report, but Robinson missed two scheduled appointments.

Robinson then failed to appear at his sentencing hearing, with his attorney — who arrived at the hearing late — informing the court that Robinson had texted him and asked for the hearing to be moved so he could “get his ducks in line” for an upcoming real estate closing. The trial judge denied that request due to his belief that Robinson wasn’t taking the matter seriously, but he withheld entering a sentence on the habitual substance offender enhancement until Robinson appeared in court pursuant to a bench warrant.

After he was arrested and sentenced, Robinson appealed and challenged the denial of his motion for a continuance and his three-year sentence for his conviction of attempted residential entry. But the Indiana Court of Appeals chose to address neither of those issues and instead reversed after finding sua sponte that it was illegal for Robinson to receive a habitual substance offender enhancement on a non-substance conviction.

Robinson returned to the question of whether his continuance should have been granted during oral arguments before the Indiana Supreme Court last week, while the state maintained that offenders cannot challenge their plea agreements when they received a benefit, as Robinson did, even if the sentence is erroneous. The state also alleged Robinson’s appeal was not timely filed.

Writing succinctly in a six-page per curiam opinion in Jacob O. Robinson v. State of Indiana, 18S-CR-33, on Friday, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s original ruling, finding first that the denial of a continuance was not an abuse of discretion.

“Robinson sought a last-minute continuance on grounds he had a real estate closing within the next few days and desired to ‘get his ducks in line,’” the court wrote. “He also failed to attend two appointments with the probation department.”

Then, turning to Robinson’s sentencing challenge, the justices determined his three-year sentence — the maximum for his Class D felony conviction — was not inappropriate under Appellate Rule 7(B) and, thus, did not warrant appellate revision.

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