from the Lake Superior Court, No. 45G02-0002-CF-24 The
Honorable Clarence D. Murray, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Tyler G. Banks Stephen R. Creason Angela N.
Sanchez Deputy Attorneys General
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Adam J. Sedia Rubino, Ruman, Crosmer
& Polen Dyer, Indiana
pleading guilty to Class D felony theft, Wallace Irvin Smith,
III entered into a plea agreement, which provided he would be
"precluded from asking for Misdemeanor treatment."
At that time, trial courts could convert sentences only at
the time of sentencing. However, in 2012, the Indiana General
Assembly amended Indiana Code section 35-50-2-7, allowing
sentences to be converted after they had been entered,
subject to certain requirements. In 2015, Smith petitioned
the trial court to convert his Class D felony to a Class A
misdemeanor pursuant to the amended statute, which the trial
court granted. We find that this subsequent legislative
amendment did not alter the unambiguous terms of Smith's
plea agreement, and reverse the trial court.
and Procedural History
2000, Smith was charged with Class B felony robbery, but he
eventually pled guilty to Class D felony theft. As part of
his plea agreement with the State, Smith agreed that he would
be "precluded from asking for Misdemeanor treatment
in this cause." Appellant's App. at 8
(emphasis added). The trial court accepted the agreement, and
entered conviction. Smith was then sentenced to one year
probation. Upon completing his probation requirements in
2002, Smith was satisfactorily discharged.
2015, Smith filed a "Verified Petition for Misdemeanor
Treatment, " seeking to convert his Class D felony
conviction to a Class A misdemeanor under Indiana Code
section 35-50-2-7(d). Appellant's App. at 14. Over the
State's objection, the trial court granted Smith's
petition, vacated his felony, and re-entered conviction as a
Class A misdemeanor.
State appealed, and our Court of Appeals affirmed. State
v. Smith, 58 N.E.3d 224 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016). This Court
granted the State's petition to transfer, thereby
vacating the opinion of the Court of Appeals. State v.
Smith, 62 N.E.3d 1202 (Ind. 2016) (table); Ind.
Appellate Rule 58(A).
terms of a plea agreement between the State and the defendant
are contractual in nature. Lee v. State, 816 N.E.2d
35, 38 (Ind. 2004). When a trial court accepts a plea
agreement, it is bound by its terms. Berry v. State,
10 N.E.3d 1243, 1246 (Ind. 2014). As such, we are guided by
contract interpretation principles, beginning with the
agreement's plain language and determining the intent of
the parties at the time the plea was entered. Id. at
1247 (citing Citimortgage, Inc. v. Barabas, 975
N.E.2d 805, 813 (Ind. 2012) ("The ultimate goal of any
contract interpretation is to determine the intent of the
parties at the time that they made the agreement.")). To
the extent issues of statutory interpretation are relevant,
our standard of review is de novo. Day v.
State, 57 N.E.3d 809, 811 (Ind. 2016).
Unambiguous Terms of Smith's Plea Agreement Precluded
Converting His Sentence Under Amended Indiana Code Section
State argues that intervening statutory changes do not
invalidate a plea agreement's unambiguous and binding
terms. Smith contends, however, that he could not have waived
a right ...