COA finds Army discipline does not exempt defendant from prosecution

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court denial of a man’s motion to dismiss, rejecting his argument that being reprimanded by the United States Army precludes him from prosecution for the same offense.

In David Hoffman v. State of Indiana, No. 03A01-1104-CR-180, David Hoffman argued that because the Army demoted him in rank for a operating a vehicle while intoxicated, the state should not have been able to prosecute him on the same charge, due to double jeopardy standards.

Hoffman was an active-duty sergeant in the Army stationed at Camp Atterbury north of Columbus, Ind. On Dec. 20, 2009, Hoffman was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and the state later charged Hoffman with that offense.

Hoffman alleges that, prior to his criminal trial, the Army took action against him for the same incident.

The appeals court held that because the defendant had failed to provide a complete record, it declined to conclude that the action taken by the military prevented the state from prosecuting him for the same conduct.

Hoffman provided the appeals court with a copy of his reduction in grade of rank. But the appeals court found that the reduction was for failure to complete training, unsatisfactory participation and failure to complete or attend noncommissioned officers education system, respectively.

In the COA opinion, Judge John Baker wrote, “We find that the record lacks any clear evidence to establish that the type of punishment that Hoffman received from the Army was equivalent to a prosecution and, in fact, undermines Hoffman’s assertion that the punishment was for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.”


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