The Indiana Court of Appeals has determined a man is not at fault for failing to appear in court due to his incarceration for another crime. It also found the trial court abused its discretion by setting an additional bail for him without having been requested to do so.
When Mark Riley was found to be in possession of heroin and a syringe after law enforcement responded to a possible overdose, he posted a $250 cash bond and was released from jail. Riley was charged with Level 6 felonies unlawful possession of a syringe and possession of a narcotic drug.
On the day of his pretrial conference, Riley didn’t appear because he was in the Marion County Jail, serving a sentence for another case. His public defender, the judge and the bailiff conversed, and an additional $100 bond was placed on Riley to have him “brought over” to the court before his release date.
At the second pretrial conference, Riley appeared in court and requested a bond review. The trial court took the motion under advisement and set another pretrial conference. Before that point, Riley appealed the order imposing the additional bond, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering an additional $100 bond for his failure to appear through no fault of his own.
“We, too, agree the trial court abused its discretion here,” Judge Margret Robb wrote for panel. “The State made no request to increase Riley’s bail, and other than the fact that Riley did not appear in court on this date because he was in jail and the jail did not transport him, the State did not present any additional evidence relevant to a high risk of his non-appearance in court. The requirements for increasing bail were not met, and the trial court therefore abused its discretion in increasing Riley’s bail by $100.”However, the appellate court found Riley was not harmed by the abuse of discretion in Mark Riley v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-2015.
“Riley was not held in jail longer than he was supposed to be on the other case due to the bond, and he never had to pay the bond because the trial court released him on his own recognizance when he next appeared in court,” Robb wrote.
“In trying to craft a solution to the jail’s failure to transport Riley, the trial court should have observed the principle of Occam’s Razor: the simplest answer is often correct. In this case, the simplest answer to the problem of the jail failing to transport Riley for his pre-trial conference would have been to order the jail to transport him for the next hearing,” the panel concluded.