COA upholds 3-year sentence for domestic battery, contempt

A man’s three-year sentence for domestic battery and contempt of court was affirmed Tuesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In Aaron L. Gerber v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-1771,  appellant-defendant Aaron Gerber was arrested in January 2020 after slapping his girlfriend, B.C., in the face and repeatedly punching her in the head with a closed fist. He was charged with Level 6 felony domestic battery and was released on his own recognizance under monitored conditional release, including a no-contact order as to B.C.

However, Gerber was charged the following March with Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy in a separate cause for violating the no-contact order. He was charged with another invasion of privacy count in May, and his bond was revoked.

Then in June, the state filed an information for contempt alleging Gerber had called B.C. more than 550 times in May and June while he was incarcerated. He eventually pleaded guilty to the contempt charge and the original Level 6 felony charge.

At sentencing, the Allen Superior Court noted Gerber had seven prior felonies, including convictions for battery and sex crimes. The court sentenced him to 2½ years for the Level 6 felony and 180 days for contempt, for an aggregate sentence of three years.

Gerber appealed his sentences, but the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed.

Judge Rudolph Pyle first noted that in addition to the nature of the crime against B.C. and his criminal history, Gerber was charged with violating the no-contact order and repeatedly calling B.C. hundreds of times. His challenge to the 180-day sentence was waived for failure to develop a cogent argument, Pyle continued, but waiver notwithstanding, the trial court did not abuse its sentencing discretion on that charge, either.

Specifically, finding that Gerber had committed indirect criminal contempt by continuously violating the no-contact order, the COA held that “(i)t would undermine the authority of trial courts and render no-contact orders meaningless if a defendant subject to a no-contact order could flagrantly violate it without fear of reprisal.”

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