ILNews

High court revises burglary sentence

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court reduced a burglar's sentence, finding his crime didn't justify the 40-year sentence imposed by the trial court.

At issue in Steven Hollin v. State of Indiana, No. 69S01-0705-CR-188, is whether the trial court properly sentenced Hollin for his conviction of conspiracy to commit burglary and being a habitual offender.

Hollin and a friend knocked on doors in Ripley County to determine if residents were home. If the home appeared empty, they planned to rob the house. Hollin and his friend found an empty home and stole $600.

At his sentencing hearing, the trial court found Hollin's criminal history to be the only aggravating factor. The court found one mitigating factor - that he was only 18. The court sentenced him to 20 years on the conspiracy conviction and enhanced the sentence by 20 years for the habitual offender adjudication.

Hollin appealed, raising two issues: whether it was fundamental error for the trial court to admit evidence of his criminal history and whether the court properly sentenced him.

In his claim regarding his criminal history, Justice Robert Rucker wrote the Supreme Court has long held that it is permissible for the trial court to consider the same prior offenses for both enhancement of the instant offense and to establish habitual offender status.

Regarding his sentence, while the trial court properly exercised its discretion, the Supreme Court decided Hollin's crime didn't warrant the 40-year sentence. Most of Hollin's criminal history happened when he was a juvenile and none of the offenses, with the exception of a cruelty to animal charge, involved violence. His character and past transgressions do not justify the 40-year sentence, Justice Rucker wrote. The high court revised Hollin's burglary sentence to 10 years and imposed an additional 10 years for the habitual offender enhancement, for a total aggregate 20-year term.

Justice Brent Dickson dissented from the majority in terms of revising Hollin's sentence. He wrote that the appellate courts should refrain from revising sentences except in rare cases. Also, trial courts should know better than appellate courts what type of sentence is appropriate.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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