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Court upholds finding man committed crime of domestic violence

December 22, 2011

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the finding that a defendant committed a crime of domestic violence, which then made it illegal for him to possess a firearm in the future. The judges determined there was enough evidence to support the finding that the defendant and the victim were in a dating relationship, a key element in the charge.

In Carl A. Staples v. State of Indiana, No. 48A05-1106-CR-298, police came to Carl Stapels’ home on the report of battery involving a weapon. Tamica Burnett was loading her belongings into a car when police arrived. Burnett, who lived with Stapels, told police that Stapels grabbed her by her throat causing pain and also pointed a firearm at her.

He later pleaded guilty to Class A misdemeanors battery and pointing a firearm. The trial court denied Staples’ request to release his firearms to a third person and found he committed a crime of domestic violence as defined by Indiana Code 35-41-1-6.3. Staples appealed, arguing that he was convicted of battery and not domestic battery, so he couldn’t have committed a crime of domestic violence.

The judge rejected this argument because by statute, a crime of domestic violence is defined as having particular elements committed against people who have a particular relationship with the defendant. Staples also claimed that there was no evidence to show that he and Burnett were members of the same household. The appellate court found circumstantial evidence supported that the two were in a dating relationship.

The judges also noted that the trial court wasn’t required to hold a separate hearing with notice prior to disqualifying Staples from future ownership or possession of firearms because the factual basis of a guilty plea provides the trial court with the evidence from which to make that determination.

 

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