Criminal Contempt Inappropriate for Defendant Who Violated Bail

Case Summary

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.

We reverse.

Facts 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.

Read the entire opinion here.

Randall Parr is an Indianapolis criminal defense attorney.  Contact him here.