Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gulzar v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 6, 2019

Naveed Gulzar, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Respondent

          Appeal from the Elkhart Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 20D05-1811-XP-76 The Honorable Charles C. Wicks, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Mark D. Altenhof Goshen, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Justin F. Roebel Supervising Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Crone, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] In April 2006, Naveed Gulzar was convicted of class D felony theft. In August 2016, his class D felony conviction was converted to a class A misdemeanor conviction. In November 2018, Gulzar filed a petition pursuant to Indiana Code Section 35-38-9-2 to expunge conviction records for a class D felony conviction converted to a class A misdemeanor conviction. The trial court denied his petition solely on the basis that the waiting period required under Section 35-38-9-2(c) had not been satisfied because five years "after the date of conviction" had not yet elapsed. Gulzar filed a motion to correct error, which was also denied.

         [¶2] Gulzar appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in using the date of his misdemeanor conviction to determine whether the five-year waiting period in Section 35-38-9-2(c) had been satisfied and that he is entitled to expungement because it has been more than five years since the date of his class D felony conviction. In an issue of first impression, we conclude that Section 35-38-9-2(c)'s requirement that a person wait at least five years "after the date of conviction" before petitioning a court for expungement means five years from the date of the misdemeanor conviction, and not, as Gulzar urges, the date of the class D felony conviction. Therefore, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] On January 25, 2006, in cause number 20D05-0601-FD-37, the State charged Gulzar with class D felony theft and two counts of class D felony fraud based on his conduct of January 21, 2006. On March 31, 2006, Gulzar pled guilty to class D felony theft pursuant to a plea agreement, and the State dismissed the fraud charges. On April 28, 2006, the trial court accepted the plea agreement, entered judgment of conviction, and sentenced Gulzar to eighteen months suspended to probation.

         [¶4] In 2012 and 2013, Gulzar filed two unsuccessful petitions to convert his class D felony conviction to a class A misdemeanor. The record on appeal does not reveal the reasons for the denial of his petitions. On May 5, 2016, Gulzar filed a third petition to convert his class D felony conviction to a class A misdemeanor.[1] On August 8, 2016, the trial court held a hearing and orally granted Gulzar's petition over the State's objection.[2] On August 17, 2016, the trial court issued an amended sentencing order, converting Gulzar's class D felony theft conviction to a class A misdemeanor and imposing a one-year sentence with 364 days suspended. Appellant's App. Vol. 2 at 15. On April 20, 2018, Gulzar filed a motion to modify sentence, seeking a sentence less than one year so that he would qualify for United States citizenship. On May 8, 2018, the trial court issued an order granting the motion, imposing a sentence of 360 days, and directing an amended abstract of judgment to be issued. An amended abstract of judgment was issued the same day.

         [¶5] On November 21, 2018, pursuant to Indiana Code Section 35-38-9-2, Gulzar filed a petition for expungement of conviction records, which was ultimately assigned to cause number 20D05-1811-XP-76. Id. at 30. The trial court denied Gulzar's petition on the grounds that Section 35-38-9-2(c) did not permit a petition for expungement to be filed earlier than five years "after the date of conviction" and Gulzar had alleged a misdemeanor conviction date of August 8, 2016. Id. at 32. Gulzar filed a motion to correct error, arguing that the judgment of conviction date for purposes of calculating the five-year waiting period was April 28, 2006, the date judgment was entered for his class D felony conviction, and therefore the five-year waiting period had elapsed. The trial court held a hearing and denied his motion. This appeal ensued.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶6] Gulzar argues that the trial court erred in interpreting "the date of conviction" for purposes of determining when the five-year waiting period required under Section 35-38-9-2(c) had elapsed. Because he raises a question of statutory interpretation, our review is de novo. Trout v. State, 28 N.E.3d 267, 271 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015). "When construing a statute our primary goal is to ascertain the legislature's intent. To discern that intent, we look first to the statutory language itself and give effect to the plain and ordinary meaning of statutory terms." Suggs v. State, 51 N.E.3d 1190, 1193 (Ind. 2016) (citation omitted). "In construing a statute, we presume that the General Assembly intended its language to be applied logically and so as not to cause an unjust or absurd result." Marshall v. State, 52 N.E.3d 41, 43 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016). We read sections of an act together to attempt to harmonize the provisions and prevent any part from being rendered meaningless. Id. In addition, we may look to the subject matter of the act and its objectives. Id. "Statutes relating to the same subject matter are in pari materia (on the same subject) and should be construed together so as to produce a harmonious statutory scheme." Jones v. State, 928 N.E.2d 285, 287 (Ind.Ct.App. 2010). "As a general rule, there is a presumption that the Legislature in enacting a particular piece of legislation has in mind existing statutes covering the same subject." Simmons v. State, 773 N.E.2d 823, 826 (Ind.Ct.App. 2002) (quoting Citizens Action Coal. of Ind. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of Ind., 425 N.E.2d 178, 184 (Ind.Ct.App. 1981)), trans. denied.

         [¶7] "When a person is convicted of a crime, the conviction is a stigma that follows him or her through life, creating many roadblocks to rehabilitation." Key v. State, 48 N.E.3d 333, 336 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015) (citing Jordan v. State, 512 N.E.2d 407, 409 (Ind. 1987)). "By enacting the expungement statutes, our legislature intended to give individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes a second chance by providing an opportunity for relief from the stigma associated with their criminal convictions." Burton v. State, 71 N.E.3d 24, 25 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017). "The expungement statutes are inherently remedial and, as such, should be liberally construed to advance the remedy for which they were enacted." Cline v. State, 61 N.E.3d 360, 362 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016) (citing Brown v. State, 947 N.E.2d 486, 490 (Ind.Ct.App. 2011), trans. denied).

         [¶8] The expungement statutes are found in Indiana Code Chapter 35-38-9, and the requirements for expungement depend on the type of conviction. Gulzar sought expungement of his records pursuant to Section 35-38-9-2.[3] In November 2018, when Gulzar filed his petition, that statute provided,

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) and section 8.5 of this chapter, this section applies only to a person convicted of a misdemeanor, including a Class D felony (for a crime committed before July 1, 2014) or a Level 6 felony (for a crime ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.