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Friday, April 30, 2010

Ind. Decisoins - One today from the Supreme Court

In Julie Gardiner v. State of Indiana, a 6-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

In this case of first impression we conclude that a conviction for a Class D felony on which judgment is later entered as a Class A misdemeanor does not prevent the trial court from modifying a sentence below the statutory minimum on grounds that the defendant has a prior unrelated felony conviction. * * *

In the case before us, Gardiner had – past tense – a prior unrelated Class D felony conviction. However effective February 8, 2008, that conviction was vacated by the Hamilton Superior Court when it modified the D felony by entering judgment of conviction upon the Class A misdemeanor. As a consequence, by the time Gardiner filed her “Petition For Sentence Modification” in the Carroll Circuit Court her felony conviction was a matter of the past. We conclude that as a matter of statutory construction, for purposes of the non-suspension statute, Gardiner no longer has a prior unrelated felony conviction.

The trial court declined to suspend Gardiner’s sentence below the statutory minimum of twenty years. On this narrow point we cannot say the trial court abused its discretion. To the extent however the trial court’s decision was influenced by its assumption that it had no discretion to sentence otherwise, the trial court erred. We therefore remand this cause to the trial court for further consideration consistent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 30, 2010 11:22 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions