The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that defendants who plead guilty to lower-level felony counts of child molesting are not subject to good-time credit restrictions, even if they do not dispute allegations of molestation that would subject them to loss of credit time.
“We must decide whether a person who pleads guilty to charges of molestation by ‘fondling or touching’ — but in doing so does not dispute evidence that his molestation included deviate/other sexual conduct (in this case, oral sex and vaginal penetration with an object) — has been ‘convicted’ of child molesting involving deviate/other sexual conduct for purposes of the credit-restricted-felon statute. We hold that he has not,” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the panel.
Christopher McCoy, 37, was accused in December 2014 of molesting an 11-year-old girl. He was charged with multiple counts, including two of the highest-level felony — a Class A felony and a Level 1 felony — for allegedly having sexual intercourse with the victim.
In January 2017, McCoy pleaded to two lesser counts — a Class C felony and a Level 4 felony — which alleged sexual fondling or touching. He was sentenced to serve 12 years as a credit restricted felon, so that he would earn one day of good-time credit for every six days served, rather than one day per every three days served, as most inmates are credited.
But Vaidik wrote that this restriction cannot apply to McCoy or others who plead guilty to charge less than a qualifying Level 1 or Level 2 child molesting offense.
“Because McCoy has not been convicted of an offense under subsection (a) of the child-molesting statute (Indiana Code section 35-42-4-3), Section 35-31.5-2-72(1) cannot apply to him, and the trial court erred by designating him a credit-restricted felon. Therefore, on remand, the trial court must remove that designation and notify the Department of Correction accordingly,” Vaidik wrote.
The case is Christopher D. McCoy v. State of Indiana,10A05-1703-CR-681.