3-year sentence affirmed for woman who drove after lifetime ban

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The Indiana Lawyer on 6/17/2020 by Katie Stancombe

A woman who was found driving in violation of the lifetime forfeiture of her driver’s license could not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday that her sentence was inappropriate.

After being pulled over for improperly changing lanes, Alicia Prince was charged and ultimately convicted of Level 5 felony operating a motor vehicle after forfeiture of her license for life.

Prince pleaded guilty to the charged offense and admitted to violating the terms and conditions of her community corrections sentence in exchange the state agreeing not file a petition to revoke probation in light of her new escape and possession of methamphetamine charges.

The plea agreement required Prince to serve the remainder of her community corrections sentence in the Indiana Department of Correction and gave sentencing discretion to the trial court on the driving charge. As a result, Prince was sentenced to three years in the DOC for the driving conviction, which was ordered to run consecutive to her sentences in three other causes.

Although Prince argued that she had four dependent children and that she had taken steps to address her substance abuse issues by applying to several inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, the trial court ultimately found the aggravators outweighed the mitigators in her case.

In affirming the trial court, the Indiana Court of Appeals found that Prince’s offense showed “no regard for the law when she drove despite her clear knowledge that she was not to do so.” In reviewing Prince’s character, the appellate court stated that “even a minor criminal history is a poor reflection of a defendant’s character.”

“Prince has had three petitions to revoke probation found to be true, and two motions to commit Prince to the DOC or petitions to execute community corrections sentence in custody have been granted. Finally, Prince’s admission in her plea agreement that she violated the terms of community corrections was the result of Prince absconding from community corrections. Prince has a long history of criminal behavior that reflects poorly on her character,” Judge Elizabeth Tavitas wrote for the appellate court.

“Prince argues her character ‘demonstrate[s] commitment’ to addressing her substance abuse issues based on her application to in-patient and out-patient substance abuse treatment centers. The trial court gave Prince another opportunity to address those issues through the recovery while incarcerated or the purposeful incarceration programs. As a result of Prince’s successful completion of either program, as determined by DOC, the trial court will consider modification of Prince’s sentence,” the appellate court concluded.

But the COA ultimately found Prince’s sentence was not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and her character, affirming in Alicia Marie Prince v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-03070.