COA partially reverses for inmate in credit time dispute

The Indiana Court of Appeals has partially reversed for a man with three simultaneously pending cases on the calculation of his credit time, finding the trial court prolonged the time until the sentence in his first case could be satisfied.

Dustin Paul had several encounters with the law that left him with three cases pending at the same time, with consecutive sentences running across all three. His issues began while on probation in his first cause, when the state filed charges in a second cause. He pleaded guilty and a sentence in the second cause was imposed consecutive to his sentence from the first.

While again on probation, the state filed petitions to revoke both causes, and the Howard Superior Court issued arrest warrants. Soon thereafter, law enforcement encountered Paul near the scene of a reported burglary in progress.

Although he gave them a false name, Paul later provided his own name and was arrested. Charges were thus filed in a third cause, and after admitting to certain allegations in each cause, the trial court revoked Paul’s probation in the first two. Specifically, it ordered that Paul serve 1,095 days of his previously suspended sentence in the Indiana Department of Correction for the first cause, 548 days of his previously suspended sentence in the second and a newly imposed sentence in the third cause of 3,285 days.

Paul was awarded 150 days of accrued time for actual time served. But as to good time credit, the court used the statutory rate associated with the third cause — one day of good time credit for every three days served — instead of the first cause’s rate — one day of good time credit for every day served.

It therefore awarded 50 days of good time credit, for 200 days of credit time, and allocated that time to the sentence in the third cause, with no time allocated to the first two sentences.

But in a partial reversal, the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with Paul that the trial court should have calculated and allocated the credit time on a “first in, first out” basis.

“Indeed, as Paul continues to serve time in the DOC, he will satisfy each sentence in turn, positioned to earn good time credit at the applicable rate as he fulfills each sentence. Nonetheless, by applying credit time to the last of the three sentences, the court has prolonged the time until Paul will satisfy the sentence in the First Cause,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote for the COA.

The appellate court held that the trial court’s approach of essentially allowing Paul to partially serve his sentence in the third cause rather than first satisfying his sentence in the first cause and, next, the sentence in the second cause did not comport with the plain mandate of Indiana Code § 35-50-1-2(e).

“We therefore conclude that the court erred in calculating and allocating credit time,” the COA wrote in Dustin R. Paul v. State of Indiana, 21A-CR-166, reversing portions of the orders addressing credit time.

“We remand with instructions to calculate and allocate credit time consistent with this opinion by focusing on the First Cause, i.e., the first sentence in the sequence of sentences. We otherwise affirm as to the matters addressed at the consolidated hearing.”

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