from the Kosciusko Superior Court The Honorable David C.
Cates, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 43D01-1705-F6-348
Attorney for Appellant David C. Kolbe
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr., James B. Martin
Deputy Attorney General
While criminal charges against Cameron Hunter
("Hunter") were pending, the State alleged that
Hunter had contemptuously violated a condition of his bail.
Following a hearing, the trial court entered a contempt
finding and imposed a sanction of 180 days in jail. Hunter
presents two issues on appeal, which we consolidate and
restate as whether the court abused its discretion by
imposing a criminal contempt sanction upon the violation of a
condition of bail.
and Procedural History
Hunter was released on bail during the pendency of criminal
charges against him. Hunter and the State eventually reached
a plea agreement, and the trial court scheduled the matter
for hearing. At the hearing, Hunter sought to postpone
consideration of the plea in order to determine whether he
was eligible for community corrections. The State then orally
sought a modification of the conditions of Hunter's bail,
to which Hunter's counsel agreed. The court continued the
hearing and orally modified the conditions of Hunter's
bail, specifying that Hunter was not to contact or "be
around anyone under the age of 18." Tr. Vol. II at 10.
Hunter confirmed that he had no questions about the trial
court's oral pronouncement. Hunter then left the
courthouse and entered a vehicle that contained the three
people he rode with to the hearing: his girlfriend, his
fifteen-year-old sister, and a sixteen-year-old female.
Thereafter, the State filed a petition alleging that Hunter
had contemptuously violated a condition of his bail by
leaving the courthouse with two minors. The trial court held
a hearing on October 9, 2017, at which it determined that
Hunter was in contempt. As a sanction, the court ordered
Hunter to serve 180 days in jail.
Hunter now appeals.
[¶5] Hunter argues that the trial court
abused its discretion by imposing a criminal contempt
sanction for the violation of a condition of
bail. We review the imposition of contempt
sanctions for an abuse of discretion, Witt v. Jay
Petroleum, Inc., 964 N.E.2d 198, 204 (Ind. 2012), which
occurs "when the trial court's decision is against
the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before
it." Mitchell v. Mitchell, 785 N.E.2d 1194,
1198 (Ind.Ct.App. 2003). Moreover, in reviewing a contempt
order, "we neither reweigh the evidence nor judge the
credibility of the witnesses." Id.
The instant matter arose because Hunter violated a condition
of his bail, and bail procedures are controlled by the
Indiana Code. See generally Ind. Code ch. 35-33-8.
Therein, Section 35-33-8-5 sets forth a remedy for the
violation of a bail condition-and that remedy is revocation
of bail. Here, however, the State alleged contempt, and the
trial court ultimately imposed a punitive contempt sanction.
A court's contempt power enables it to impose sanctions
designed to "maintain its dignity, secur[e] obedience
to its process and rules, rebuk[e] interference with the
conduct of business, and punish unseemly behavior."
City of Gary v. Major, 822 N.E.2d 165, 169 (Ind.
2005). Contempt sanctions are often remedial in nature, aimed
toward "coerc[ing] action for the benefit of [an]
aggrieved party." In re Paternity of M.P.M.W.,
908 N.E.2d 1205, 1209 (Ind.Ct.App. 2009). A court may
nonetheless impose a punitive contempt sanction, but only if
the offending conduct amounts to "criminal"
contempt-that is, when the conduct was "willful and
involve[d] a deliberate design to disobey the order as an act
of defiance of, and interference with, the function of the
court." Denny v. State, 203 Ind. 682, 182 N.E.
313, 320 (1932). Indeed, conduct amounts to punishable
criminal contempt only when "directed against the
dignity and authority of the court[, ] . . . obstruct[ing]
the administration of justice and . . . tend[ing] to bring
the court into disrepute or disrespect." State v.
Heltzel, 552 N.E.2d 31, 33-34 (Ind. 1990).
In this case, the State presented evidence of Hunter's
violation, and argued that Hunter "defied the
Court's order" because he "proceeded to exit
the building" with minors. Tr. Vol. II at 31. Hunter
testified that he did not know whether he was supposed to
wait while his girlfriend drove the minors back and returned
to pick him up, or first leave without the minors. In
imposing a punitive contempt sanction, the trial court
seemingly drew on Hunter's testimony, determining that
Hunter "contemptuously ignored" its orders
"because to comply would have been inconvenient for
him." App. Vol. II at 13. Yet, Hunter's ...