Hatfield v. State, 32A01–1411–CR–510.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana
Citation40 N.E.3d 530 (Table)
Docket NumberNo. 32A01–1411–CR–510.,32A01–1411–CR–510.
PartiesWilliam HATFIELD, Appellant–Defendant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee–Plaintiff.
Decision Date14 September 2015

40 N.E.3d 530 (Table)

William HATFIELD, Appellant–Defendant
STATE of Indiana, Appellee–Plaintiff.

No. 32A01–1411–CR–510.

Court of Appeals of Indiana.

Sept. 14, 2015.

Ryan W. Tanselle, Capper Tulley & Reimondo, Brownsburg, IN, Attorney for Appellant.

Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Karl M. Scharnberg, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.


ROBB, Judge.

Case Summary and Issues

[1] Following a bench trial, William Hatfield was found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a Class A misdemeanor. He raises three issues for our review, namely: 1) whether the evidence sustains his conviction; 2) whether the trial court committed fundamental error when it ordered him to pay restitution; and 3) whether his sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of his offense and his character. Concluding that the State produced sufficient evidence for the trial court to find Hatfield guilty, Hatfield invited any error regarding the entry of the restitution order which, nevertheless, was supported by adequate evidence, and Hatfield has failed to show that his sentence is inappropriate, we affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

[2] On August 8, 2013, Hatfield drove a pickup truck westbound on East County Road 675 South in Hendricks County. Asfahan Kahn was driving eastbound on the same road with his wife and his brother-in-law in a sedan. The front of Hatfield's truck collided with the driver's side of Kahn's sedan, resulting in damage. Upon impact, Hatfield felt as though his truck “stopped for a moment.” Transcript at 70. The vehicles bounced off one another. Kahn's sedan hit a telephone pole and then came to rest in a bean field.

[3] After the accident, Hatfield stopped his truck, exited, and checked his cargo. Hatfield, who had no insurance on his truck, drove away without providing Kahn any identifying information. Hatfield did not check on the occupants of Kahn's sedan or provide them with other assistance. A citizen followed Hatfield, who was driving at “high speed,” tr. at 46, for over three miles before blocking Hatfield's truck. Along the route there were multiple places where Hatfield could have turned around and returned to the site of the accident. The citizen and Hatfield returned together to the scene of the accident, where Hatfield was arrested. Kahn and his passengers were treated by first responders and then were taken to Methodist Hospital.

[4] The State charged Hatfield with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury. The trial court found Hatfield guilty and later sentenced him to 364 days of imprisonment in the county jail, with 362 days suspended to probation and credit for time served. The trial court also entered an order of restitution as a civil judgment in the amount of $14,852.67 in favor of Kahn's insurer. Hatfield had no objection to the entry of the order. Hatfield now appeals. Additional facts will be added as necessary.

Discussion and Decision

I. Sufficiency of Evidence

A. Standard of Review

[5] “When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction, we consider only the probative evidence and reasonable inferences supporting the verdict.” Oster v. State, 992 N.E.2d 871, 875 (Ind.Ct.App.2013), trans. denied. We will not reweigh evidence or assess credibility of the witnesses. Glenn v. State, 999 N.E.2d 859, 861 (Ind.Ct.App.2013). “The conviction will be affirmed unless no reasonable fact-finder could find the elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted).

B. Leaving the Scene of an Accident

[6] The driver of a vehicle that is involved in an accident resulting in injury must immediately stop his vehicle, remain there until he has provided identifying information, and render reasonable assistance to those injured in the accident. Ind.Code §§ 9–26–1–1(1) –(2) (2013). Failure to do so constitutes the criminal offense of leaving the scene of an accident. Ind.Code § 9–26–l–8(a) (2013). “The purpose of the statute is to provide prompt aid for persons who are injured or whose property is damaged and to sufficiently establish the identity of the parties so that they and police authorities may know with whom to deal in matters growing out of the accident.” Hudson v. State, 20 N.E.3d 900, 904 (Ind.Ct.App.2014) (citations omitted).

[7] In order to convict Hatfield of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury as charged, the State was required to show that Hatfield,

being the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that resulted in injury to [Kahn and his passengers], did fail to remain at the accident scene until the driver had provided name, address, and vehicle registration number and determined the need for and rendered reasonable assistance to the injured.

Appellant's Appendix at 10. The evidence at trial showed that, after initially stopping to check on the status of his cargo, Hatfield drove at a high rate of speed over three miles away from the location of...

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