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COA affirms remanded sentence

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s remanded sentence of 44 years, finding that his previous drug conviction could serve as both the basis for his consecutive sentence for a firearm conviction and to enhance his sentences for his other convictions.

In Johnnie Stokes v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-1009-CR-578, Johnnie Stokes challenged his sentence handed down on remand for Class B felonies robbery, attempted robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, and Class C felony criminal recklessness. Previously, the Court of Appeals had vacated five of his convictions related to a robbery of a recording studio in 2008 and ordered him to be re-sentenced. He received concurrent terms of 20 years for robbery and 10 years for attempted robbery, to be served consecutive to 20 years on the firearm conviction, and consecutive to four years for criminal recklessness.

Stokes argued that his sentence was improperly enhanced twice for the same prior felony conviction, claiming his 2001 conviction for dealing in cocaine improperly served as both the basis for his consecutive sentence for his firearm conviction and as part of his extensive criminal history that the trial court considered an aggravating circumstance in sentencing him for his other present offenses.

Chief Judge Margret Robb noted that explicit legislative direction permits the “enhancements’ that Stokes opposes. The judges didn’t agree with Stokes’ reliance on Sweatt v. State, 887 N.E.2d 81, 83 (Ind. 2008).

“Although his sentences for UPFSVF, robbery, and criminal recklessness were all enhanced based – technically, in part – on the same prior felony conviction, Stokes’s case is substantially different from Sweatt because a more appropriate characterization of his enhanced sentences would focus on the general length and severity of his criminal history, not a single conviction among the several,” wrote the chief judge. “The trial court recounted Stokes’s dealing in cocaine conviction while explaining his entire criminal history, and did not rely on it individually.”

The judges also found that Stokes’ sentence doesn’t violate the double jeopardy clause of the Indiana Constitution because the sentences for his convictions of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, robbery, and criminal recklessness were based on different firearms.

They also held that his consecutive sentence for the firearm conviction is not inappropriate in light of the nature of his offense and character.

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  1. Is it possible to amend an order for child support due to false paternity?

  2. He did not have an "unlicensed handgun" in his pocket. Firearms are not licensed in Indiana. He apparently possessed a handgun without a license to carry, but it's not the handgun that is licensed (or registered).

  3. Once again, Indiana's legislature proves how friendly it is to monopolies. This latest bill by Hershman demonstrates the lengths Indiana's representatives are willing to go to put big business's (especially utilities') interests above those of everyday working people. Maassal argues that if the technology (solar) is so good, it will be able to compete on its own. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the industries he represents. Instead, he wants to cut the small credit consumers get for using solar in order to "add a 'level of certainty'" to his industry. I haven't heard of or seen such a blatant money-grab by an industry since the days when our federal, state, and local governments were run by the railroad. Senator Hershman's constituents should remember this bill the next time he runs for office, and they should penalize him accordingly.

  4. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  5. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

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