Felony advisory sentence doesn’t require sentencing statement, COA rules

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The Indiana Lawyer on 11/9/2018 by Dave Stafford

A man arguing that a trial court abused its discretion in imposing an advisory sentence without issuing a statement lost his case when the Indiana Court of Appeals found that under Indiana code, courts are not required to issue statements for advisory felony sentences.

In May 2008, Anthony Ward, Sr., pleaded guilty to Level 5 felony auto theft and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement after he a stole a woman’s car from a liquor store parking lot. Ward received an aggregate four-year sentence, but contended that his three-year sentence for the auto theft conviction was an abuse of the Allen Superior Court’s discretion because the trial court did not enter a sentencing statement.

But the appellate court found that under the plain language of Indiana Code Section 35-38-1-1.3 (2018), a trial court “is not required to issue a sentencing statement where, as here, it imposes the advisory sentence for a felony conviction.”

Ward acknowledged that the trial court was not required by statute to enter a sentencing statement, but continued to argue that the statute was incompatible with the Supreme Court’s holding in Anglemyer v. State, 868 N.E.2d 482 (Ind.).

“Still, Ward contends that ‘Anglemyer’s requirement of a sentencing statement, and the importance of that statement, remain a cornerstone of Indiana sentencing law even after I.C. § 35-38-1-1.3 was passed by the legislature,’” Judge Edward Najam wrote.

Despite his arguments that the court was still required to follow the dictates of Anglemyer, the appellate court ultimately decided the statute was clear and unambiguous.

“In sum, a trial court is not required to enter a sentencing statement if it imposes the advisory sentence for a felony conviction,” Najam concluded. “…Here, because the trial court sentenced Ward to the advisory sentence of three years for a Level 5 felony, the trial court was not required to enter a sentencing statement. Thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it sentenced Ward, and we affirm Ward’s sentence.”

The case is Anthony Ward, Sr. v. State of Indiana,18A-CR-1589.