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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues two today

In Joey Jennings v. State of Indiana, a 10-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Massa writes:

This case presents a question of statutory interpretation: does the phrase “term of imprisonment,” as it is used in Indiana’s misdemeanor sentencing statute, include time suspended from a sentence? We hold it does not. * * *

In contrast, Jennings argues that “term of imprisonment” must include both executed and suspended time, and a “term of imprisonment” plus probation cannot exceed one year. If we adopted Jennings’s interpretation, we would have to apply it to the entire chapter and all levels of misdemeanors, with results that would frustrate legislative intent and undermine accountability measures that encourage reflection, remorse, and rehabilitation. Thus, we reject it. * * *

For the purpose of Indiana Code § 35-50-3-1, “term of imprisonment” means the total amount of time a misdemeanant is incarcerated. Further, regardless of the maximum sentence available under Indiana Code §§ 35-50-3-2, 35-50-3-3, and 35-50-3-4, the combined term of imprisonment and probation for a misdemeanor may not exceed one year. We therefore remand this case to the trial court for imposition of a probationary period consistent with this opinion, not to exceed 335 days—the difference between one year (365 days) and the 30 days Jennings was ordered to serve in prison

In Kathleen Peterink v. State of Indiana, a 2-page opinion, Justice Massa concludes:
Our decision today in Jennings v. State, No. 53S01-1209-CR-526, slip op. (Ind. February 20, 2013), dictates that the trial court be affirmed in this regard. We thus uphold the suspended sentence, with probation, but remand with instructions to allow for credit time for home detention.
ILB comments: Prof. Schumm called Jennings "the most important misdemeanor sentencing case in memory" in this Jan. 28th ILB entry.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 20, 2013 01:34 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions