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Lacey v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 23, 2019

John Jay Lacey, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Boone Superior Court The Honorable Matthew C. Kincaid, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 06D01-1606-F3-149

          Appellant Pro Se John Jay Lacey Carlisle, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana J.T. Whitehead Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          BAILEY, JUDGE.

         CASE SUMMARY

         [¶1] John Jay Lacey ("Lacey") appeals, pro se, his thirteen-year sentence enhancement based upon habitual offender status. He raises three issues, which we consolidate and restate as whether there was sufficient evidence to support his habitual offender enhancement.

         [¶2] We reverse and remand with instructions.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         [¶3] On June 22, 2016, the State charged Lacey with aggravated battery, as a Level 3 felony, [1] and subsequently filed a notice also seeking a habitual offender enhancement, [2] based on an October 16, 2012, Florida conviction for battery on an officer, as a Level 3 felony, [3] and a March 2, 2014, Florida conviction for aggravated battery, as a Level 3 felony.[4] On November 18, 2016, Lacey and the State entered into a plea agreement under which Lacey pled guilty to aggravated battery and admitted his status as a habitual offender. The plea agreement left sentencing to the trial court's discretion and agreed to a cap of fourteen years on the habitual offender enhancement.

         [¶4] On February 16, 2017, the trial court sentenced Lacey to fifteen years for aggravated battery, enhanced by thirteen years for being a habitual offender. Lacey filed a motion to correct erroneous sentence pursuant to Indiana Code Section 35-38-1-15 on August 15, 2018, and the trial court denied that motion on October 11. This appeal ensued.

         DISCUSSION AND DECISION

         MOTION TO CORRECT SENTENCE/APPEAL

         [¶5] As an initial matter, we note that the State does not challenge Lacey's right to seek a correction of the judgment imposing the habitual offender enhancement under Indiana Code Section 35-38-1-15. That statute permits the filing of a motion to correct sentence when a sentence is defective on its face in light of the statutory authority. See Woodcox v. State, 30 N.E.3d 748, 751 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015) (citing Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783, 786 (Ind. 2004)). "A sentence is defective on its face if it violates express statutory authority at the time the sentence is pronounced, as when the sentence falls outside the statutory parameters for the particular offense or is based on an erroneous interpretation of a penalty provision." Id. (quotations and citation omitted). Lacey alleges that his sentence violated express statutory authority at the time the sentence was pronounced; therefore, his motion to correct sentence pursuant to Indiana Code Section 35-38-1-15 was appropriate.

         [¶6] Nor does the State challenge Lacey's right to appeal his sentence, despite his plea agreement waiving that right. Because Lacey's plea agreement did not fix his sentence, he may appeal the merits of the sentence. Creech v. State, 887 N.E.2d 73, 74 (Ind. 2008) (also noting "[t]he same is true even when the defendant agrees to a sentencing cap or range"); see also Haddock v. State, 112 N.E.3d 763, 767 (Ind.Ct.App. 2018) (citing Crider v. State, 984 N.E.2d 618, 623 (Ind. 2013)) ("[I]f a sentence imposed is illegal, and the defendant does not specifically agree to the ...


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