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Convictions don't violate double jeopardy

September 3, 2008

The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed today a post-conviction court's denial of a defendant's petition for relief, finding his convictions of burglary and attempted armed robbery didn't violate Indiana's double jeopardy clause.

In Roderick Lee v. State of Indiana, No. 27S04-0805-PC-226, Roderick Lee petitioned for post-conviction relief, arguing his trial and appellate counsel was ineffective because counsel didn't argue Lee's convictions violated the double jeopardy clause under the "actual evidence" test in Richardson v. State, 717 N.E.2d 32 (Ind. 1999).

But the Supreme Court found there was a reasonable possibility that Lee's jury used exactly the same set of facts to establish both convictions. The evidence presented at Lee's trial boils down to four facts: Lee barged into the home, had a gun, made threats, and demanded money, wrote Justice Theodore Boehm. And those facts can support both convictions.

As in Redman v. State, 743 N.E.2d 263 (Ind. 2001), and in Lee's case, there was extended evidence of a protracted crime and the prosecution emphasized the evidence that was distinct to each crime, wrote the justice. There is no reasonable possibility that Lee's jury only used the barging into the home and ignored the rest of the evidence once Lee was inside the home as substantial steps toward taking property, so his convictions don't violate double jeopardy.

"We note that more deliberate prosecution of multiple offenses would avoid these double jeopardy problems. Had the charges, instructions, and closing argument cited the fact of barging into the home as to the burglary alone, and the threats and demands as to the attempted armed robbery, there would be no double jeopardy question, and the trial and appellate courts would not have been required to assess the degree of likelihood of overlapping convictions," he wrote.

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