ILNews

Court revises sentence to fix double jeopardy issue

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Appellate courts must frequently address claims from convicted criminals that counsel was ineffective, sentences are unreasonable, or that the charges violate double jeopardy.

Rarely does the state concede that convictions violate double jeopardy principles, as happened in a case decided Tuesday by the Indiana Supreme Court.

In Chad E. Strong v. State of Indiana, No. 20S03-0612-CR-529, the Indiana Attorney General's Office acknowledged the defendant's claim that two convictions - one for murder and another for neglect of a dependent resulting in the same child's death - violate the hallmark legal principle preventing a person from being charged twice for the same offense.

Strong was convicted of murder in the death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter and also of a Class A felony of neglect of a dependent in connection with the child's death. He received consecutive terms of 65 years for murder and 55 years for the neglect felony. On direct appeal he raised issues of prosecutorial misconduct, evidence admission, sentence appropriateness, and double jeopardy. The Court of Appeals rejected all the claims except the last, remanding with instruction to reduce the conviction to a lower Class B felony and impose 20 years consecutive to the murder sentence. Strong argued this doesn't cure the double jeopardy problem, while the state disagreed.

"Such a recharacterization of the charges, however, does not eliminate the fact that both charged offenses would still be based on the same bodily injury," Justice Brent Dickson wrote in the unanimous four-page opinion. "Only when deemed a Class D offense, which does not include any element of bodily injury, does the conviction of neglect of a dependent satisfy the common law/statutory construction aspect of Indiana's double jeopardy jurisprudence."

The high court affirmed the murder conviction and sentence, but remanded to the trial court with instructions to reduce the conviction from a Class A to a D felony and revise the sentence to three years served consecutive to the murder sentence.
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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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