COA remands case to clarify who should set sliding scale fees

The Indiana Court of Appeals has remanded a case after finding no clarification from the trial court as to whether Marion County Community Corrections was intended to evaluate a man on a sliding scale of fees for his home detention costs.

During a sentencing hearing, Lawrence Amick was sentenced to 730 days in community corrections for both of his Level 6 felonies auto theft and forgery, to be served concurrently.

Per Amick’s request, the Marion Superior Court ordered the Marion County Community Corrections to evaluate Amick for sliding scale fees for the cost of his home detention. The court’s sentencing order totaled Amick’s court costs and fees at $285.

A memo filed by the MCCC stated Amick owed it $3,680. It also requested that the bond amount filed with the Marion County Clerk’s Office be transferred to the MCCC to apply toward the outstanding balance of program costs associated with the services provided to Amick, which the trial court approved.

Amick appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in entering the community corrections fees based on a sliding scale. He specifically contended the abuse occurred when the trial court ordered the MCCC to evaluate Amick for sliding scale fees for the cost of home detention, asserting that the trial court holds the discretion to impose fees.

Although it argued Amick invited any error when he specifically requested the trial court impose the fees on a sliding scale, the state admitted it was unknown on appeal what the trial court was referring to based on the record. Thus, the Indiana Court of Appeals remanded the case.

“In reply, Amick asserts that no error was invited and that he is arguing that the court abused its discretion when it granted MCCC authority to determine what the sliding scale would be without first petitioning the court and receiving approval for the estimated costs,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the court.

“The record does not include the ‘sliding scale’ or state who established it or who administers it. We have no way of knowing whether the trial court intended to delegate any statutory responsibility to MCCC or whether the fees requested by MCCC and entered by the trial court were consistent with the sliding scale,” Brown continued.

Thus, the case was remanded for the trial court to clarify its intent regarding the fee and for further proceedings consistent with the opinion in Lawrence Amick v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-27.

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