ILNews

Committed defendant can be charged

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a pre-trial motion to dismiss a pending felony criminal recklessness charge against a defendant, ruling the length of time incompetent defendants are committed to a mental health institution does not allow for dismissal of charges.

In State of Indiana v. Charlene Davis, 49A02-0706-CR-545, the state argued the trial court did not have the legal authority to dismiss a Class D felony criminal recklessness charge against Davis. Davis was found to be incompetent to stand trial in May 2004 and was ordered to be committed to a Department of Mental Health psychiatric institution. Pursuant to Indiana Code 35-36-3-3(a), the superintendent of the state institution where the defendant is placed is required to certify to the trial court whether there is a substantial probability the defendant will become competent within the foreseeable future. The superintendent where Davis was placed wrote to the trial court Davis had not attained competency to stand trial and filed a petition for Davis' civil involuntary commitment. She was committed in September 2004 in Evansville.

In August 2005, Davis was evaluated again for competency to stand trial and still lacked competency. She was later transferred to Larue Carter Memorial Hospital; in March 2007, the chief medical officer at Larue Carter wrote to the trial court that in her opinion, Davis could not be restored to competency. As a result, Davis' counsel filed a motion to dismiss the felony charge because she had been involuntarily committed for longer than the maximum sentence for the charged crime. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss.

Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote the Indiana statutes for commitment during a criminal proceeding do not mention any procedure regarding pending criminal charges once a defendant is committed based on statute. The state argued this lack of statutory instruction does not allow the trial court to dismiss the charges over the state's objection.

Davis' counsel cited Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715, 717 (1972) in allowing the trial court to dismiss the charge. The U.S. Supreme Court held in the case a defendant charged by a state with a criminal offense who is committed solely because of incapacity to proceed with the trial can't be held for more than "the reasonable period of time necessary to determine whether there is substantial probability that he will attain that capacity in the foreseeable future."

Davis' attorneys argued allowing charges to remain pending against a defendant who has been found incompetent violates due process, but the U.S. Supreme Court did not address that issue in Jackson, wrote Judge Bailey. Davis' charge was not dismissed because of due process; it was dismissed because she had been committed for longer than the maximum sentence for the crime.

The court found no authority for equating time in civil involuntary commitment to credit for time served for pending criminal charges.
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  1. OK, now do something about this preverted anacronism

  2. William Hartley prosecutor of Wabash county constantly violates people rights. Withholds statement's, is bias towards certain people. His actions have ruined lives and families. In this county you question him or go out of town for a lawyer,he finds a way to make things worse for you. Unfair,biased and crooked.

  3. why is the State trying to play GOD? Automatic sealing of a record is immoral. People should have the right to decide how to handle a record. the state is playing GOD. I have searched for decades, then you want me to pay someone a huge price to contact my son. THIS is extortion and gestapo control. OPEN THE RECORDS NOW. OPEN THE RECORDS NOW. OPEN THE RECORDS NOW.

  4. I haven't made some of the best choices in the last two years I have been to marion county jail 1 and two on three different occasions each time of release dates I've spent 48 to 72 hours after date of release losing a job being denied my freedom after ordered please help

  5. Out here in Kansas, where I now work as a government attorney, we are nearing the end of a process that could have relevance in this matter: "Senate Bill 45 would allow any adult otherwise able to possess a handgun under state and federal laws to carry that gun concealed as a matter of course without a permit. This move, commonly called constitutional carry, would elevate the state to the same club that Vermont, Arizona, Alaska and Wyoming have joined in the past generation." More reading here: http://www.guns.com/2015/03/18/kansas-house-panel-goes-all-in-on-constitutional-carry-measure/ Time to man up, Hoosiers. (And I do not mean that in a sexist way.)

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