Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How Informal Agreements May Get You Into Prison

Man Acquitted of Felony Non-Support in Indianapolis

I noticed this story in today's Indianapolis Star. Locally, I do not recall a felony non-support case going to trial. Even when Madison County lead the state for incarceration for felony non-support. Here is how The Star lead with the story:

A man pegged as one of Marion County's worst "deadbeat dads" was acquitted by a jury Monday after his ex-wife testified that he had always supported his two daughters.

The decision ended one of the last remaining cases of 10 brought by Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi around Father's Day 2005. The men were accused of withholding child support totaling $624,000.

But Eric D. Walker, who topped that list at nearly $122,000 in arrears, is the first to win an acquittal. Eight of the 10 have pleaded guilty, while a ninth, Blaise Kreuzman, is wanted on a warrant issued after he skipped a court date in June.

The Marion Superior Court jury deliberated for less than half an hour Monday after a trial before Senior Judge Charles Wiles. It found Walker not guilty of Class C and Class D felony counts of nonsupport of a dependent child.

For those of you who have child support arrears, I suggest that you do not take too much comfort in the story. His ex-wife saved him.

I would also say that the ex-wife helped get him into trouble.
Tawanna Walker testified they had an informal agreement, and her ex-husband paid cash to meet the family's needs. The daughters now are 19 and 21.
Never, ever, on any circumstances pay support directly to the mother in any form - cash, money order, check. Never enter into informal agreements. I know you want to save money on attorney fees or you do not like to pay the support docket fees or you just do not want to take the trouble or you just did not know any better. Consider this when you think about the costs of doing things the right way: the father lost a good job because of his arrest. As for not knowing any better, you cannot say that now. Can you?

For those of you interested, here is the statute on felony non-support:

IC 35-46-1-5
Nonsupport of a dependent child
35-46-1-5 Sec. 5. (a) A person who knowingly or intentionally fails to provide support to the person's dependent child commits nonsupport of a child, a Class D felony. However, the offense is a Class C felony if the total amount of unpaid support that is due and owing for one (1) or more children is at least fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000).
(b) It is a defense that the child had abandoned the home of his family without the consent of his parent or on the order of a court, but it is not a defense that the child had abandoned the home of his family if the cause of the child's leaving was the fault of his parent.
(c) It is a defense that the accused person, in the legitimate practice of his religious belief, provided treatment by spiritual means through prayer, in lieu of medical care, to his dependent child.
(d) It is a defense that the accused person was unable to provide support.
As added by Acts 1976, P.L.148, SEC.6. Amended by Acts 1977, P.L.340, SEC.88; Acts 1978, P.L.144, SEC.9; P.L.213-1996, SEC.4; P.L.123-2001, SEC.4.

No comments: