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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 2, 2017

Larenda Jones, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 49G20-1507-F5-26471 The Honorable James Snyder, Commissioner

          Attorney for Appellant Deborah Markisohn Marion County Public Defender Agency Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Tyler G. Banks Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          MATHIAS, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Larenda Jones ("Jones") appeals the order of the Marion Superior Court revoking her placement in community correction and sentencing her to serve the remainder of her executed sentence at the Department of Corrections ("DOC"). On appeal, Jones presents two issues, which we reorder and restate as: (1) whether the trial court erred by failing to inform Jones of her release date, and (2) whether the trial court denied Jones the right to speak in allocution. Concluding that the trial court did not err in failing to inform Jones of her release date but that the trial court did err by refusing to let Jones speak in allocution, we reverse and remand.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On June 28, 2015, the State charged Jones with one count of resisting law enforcement as a Level 6 felony and one count of battery against a public safety official as a Level 5 felony. On August 31, 2015, Jones entered into a plea agreement with the State in which she agreed to plead guilty to the charge of battery against a public safety official and the State agreed to dismiss the charge of resisting law enforcement.[1] Pursuant to the agreement, Jones was to receive a sentence of three years, with two years on home detention through Marion County Community Corrections and one year suspended to probation. The trial court accepted the plea and, on September 9, 2015, sentenced Jones as provided in the plea agreement.

         [¶3] On February 4, 2016, Jones admitted to violating the terms of her placement on home detention.[2] As a result, the trial court revoked this placement and instead ordered Jones to serve her sentence on work release at the Craine House Residential Center ("Craine House").

         [¶4] On April 18, 2016, the State filed an allegation that Jones had violated the terms of her placement at Craine House. The trial court held a hearing on the matter on June 2, 2016. At this hearing, the State presented evidence that, on April 10 of that year, Jones argued with another inmate and, as she walked by this inmate, ran her shoulder into the back of the inmate, almost knocking her down. The State also alleged that, the next day, Jones and yet another inmate had a verbal altercation after Jones confronted the inmate. This altercation required the intervention of Craine House staff, who instructed Jones to go to her room, but Jones refused to comply.

         [¶5] Jones testified on her own behalf at the hearing and explained that she had not been taking her prescribed medications to treat her mental health issues. She also claimed that, with regard to the first incident, she merely "brushed [past]" the other inmate. Tr. p. 27. With regard to the second incident, Jones acknowledged that she and the other inmate got into an argument, but claimed that it was a minor incident for which both parties apologized to each other. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found that Jones had violated the conditions of her placement, revoked her placement in home detention, and sentenced her to serve two years in the DOC and one year on probation. In so doing, the trial court noted that Jones had been placed on "strict compliance" probation. Tr. p. 31.

         [¶6] As the State was attempting to discuss credit time, Jones herself interjected and asked the court, "May I please say something?" Tr. p. 32. The trial court responded, "Ms. Jones that time is up." Id. As the parties continued their discussion regarding credit time, Jones again personally interjected, and the following exchange occurred between her and the trial court:

[Jones]: And for how long DOC?
[Court]: I'm sorry?
[Jones]: And how long DOC? I mean basically I no longer my daughter a mother anymore [sic].
[Court]: I can't give you an exact out date[.] [T]hat's something that DOC will give[.] I can assure you that we have factored in all of your credit, you will receive all of your credit and they will give you an estimated-
[Jones]: Why can't I go to the PAIR program or anything[?] I have a daughter that's going to get tooken (sic) from me this month.
[Court]: -they will give you an estimated projected release ...

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