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Reis v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 11, 2017

Jonathon D. Reis, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Posey Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 65D01-1702-F5-86 The Honorable S. Brent Almon, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant William W. Gooden Mt. Vernon, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Jesse R. Drum Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Robb, Judge.

         Case Summary and Issue

         [¶1] Following a guilty plea, Jonathon Reis was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while privileges are forfeited for life, a Level 5 felony, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person, a Class A misdemeanor. Reis was sentenced to a term of five years for the Level 5 felony to be executed at the Indiana Department of Correction and a consecutive term of one year for the Class A misdemeanor to be served in a community corrections program. He now appeals, raising for our review the sole issue of whether his sentence is inappropriate in light of his character and the nature of his offense. Concluding his sentence is not inappropriate, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Early in the morning on February 19, 2017, police officers found a white Chevrolet SUV on Highway 62 in Posey County. The SUV was running, in drive, and facing south blocking both westbound lanes of traffic. Officers attempted to wake the driver, later identified as Reis, to no avail. Reis lifted his foot off the brake and the vehicle rolled into a guardrail. Once the vehicle came to a stop, officers unlocked the vehicle, shut it off, and again attempted to wake Reis. While doing so, officers observed a nearly empty bottle of vodka on the passenger floorboard. When officers were finally able to wake Reis, they removed him from the vehicle. Reis's balance was "very unsteady, " he smelled of alcoholic beverages, and he repeatedly replied, "mother fu****" to officers' questions. Appellant's Appendix, Volume II at 13.

         [¶3] Officers learned Reis's driver's license was suspended for life as an habitual traffic offender and he was administered a portable breath test, which revealed a blood alcohol content ("BAC") of .21. Reis acknowledged his license was suspended and when asked why he was an habitual traffic offender he responded, "same sh**." Id. At the jail, Reis refused to take the breathalyzer but agreed to another portable breath test, which again revealed a BAC of .21. Reis stated that he wished he was still in the beer phase of his life but he drank vodka.

         [¶4] The State charged Reis with operating a motor vehicle while privileges are forfeited for life, a Level 5 felony, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person, a Class A misdemeanor. Reis pleaded guilty as charged.

         [¶5] At sentencing, the trial court placed a "great deal of weight" on the defendant's prior criminal record which includes seventeen prior convictions. Transcript, Volume 2 at 31. The trial court also noted Reis's "terrible alcohol problem" and that the circumstances of his offenses were "egregious" before sentencing Reis to five years in the Indiana Department of Correction and one year in a community corrections program. Id. at 32-33. Reis now appeals his sentence.

         Discussion and Decision

         I. Standard of Review

         [¶6] We may review and revise criminal sentences pursuant to the authority derived from Article 7, Section 6 of the Indiana Constitution. Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B) empowers us to revise a sentence "if, after due consideration of the trial court's decision, the Court finds that the sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender." Because a trial court's judgment "should receive considerable deference[, ]" our principal role is to "leaven the outliers." Caldwell v. State, 895 N.E.2d 1219, 1222-25 (Ind. 2008). "Such deference should prevail unless overcome by compelling evidence portraying in a positive light the nature of the offense (such as accompanied by restraint, regard, and lack of brutality) and the defendant's character (such as substantial virtuous traits or persistent examples of good character)." Stephenson v. State, 29 N.E.3d 111, 122 (Ind. 2015). The defendant bears the burden to persuade this court that his or her sentence is inappropriate, Childress v. State, 848 N.E.2d 1073, 1080 (Ind. 2006), and we may look to any factors appearing in the record for such a determination, Stokes v. State, 947 N.E.2d 1033, 1038 (Ind.Ct.App. 2011), trans. denied.

         II. ...


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