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COA rejects claim overhaul of Criminal Code shows Class A felonies disproportionate

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A defendant attempted to persuade the Indiana Court of Appeals that the Class A felony classifications for dealing or possession of cocaine are disproportionate by pointing to the recent revisions to the Criminal Code. The new criminal classifications and sentencing structure that take effect next year no longer include these crimes in the highest level of felonies.

Christopher Cross was convicted of several drug and weapons offenses as a result of his role in the sale of cocaine in Shelby County in 2006 about 120 feet from a youth center. He was originally sentenced to 50 years after being found to be a habitual offender. After a joint petition for post-conviction relief was filed by Cross and the state in January, he was resentenced to 38 years.

On appeal, Cross contended that the classification of his acts of dealing in cocaine and possession of cocaine as Class A felonies was disproportionate to the nature of his offenses and that he suffered certain double jeopardy violations.

The appellate judges disagreed with Cross that dealing in cocaine and possession of cocaine should not be classified as Class A felonies because the offenses lack the serious physical harm that is inherent in other Class A felony offenses. The judges also found Cross’ argument relating to the revision of the criminal code to be unpersuasive.

“Nothing in House Enrolled Act 1006 suggests that the overhaul of the criminal classifications and sentencing structure should apply retroactively. To the contrary, House Enrolled Act 1006 indicates that crimes committed before July 1, 2014, should be charged and sentenced pursuant to the old classifications and sentencing structure,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in Christopher Cross v. State of Indiana, 73A01-1303-CR-134.

There were not double jeopardy violations involving Cross’ conviction for Class C felony carrying a handgun without a license and the sentence enhancement imposed due to his firearm use during the commission of the offense of dealing in cocaine. The record contains independent evidence which shows he used the handgun during the commission of the act of dealing in cocaine instead of merely possessing the gun.

The judges ordered his conviction for Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license vacated because it is a lesser-included offense of the Class C felony conviction.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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