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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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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