ILNews

High court revises burglary sentence

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court reduced a burglar's sentence, finding his crime didn't justify the 40-year sentence imposed by the trial court.

At issue in Steven Hollin v. State of Indiana, No. 69S01-0705-CR-188, is whether the trial court properly sentenced Hollin for his conviction of conspiracy to commit burglary and being a habitual offender.

Hollin and a friend knocked on doors in Ripley County to determine if residents were home. If the home appeared empty, they planned to rob the house. Hollin and his friend found an empty home and stole $600.

At his sentencing hearing, the trial court found Hollin's criminal history to be the only aggravating factor. The court found one mitigating factor - that he was only 18. The court sentenced him to 20 years on the conspiracy conviction and enhanced the sentence by 20 years for the habitual offender adjudication.

Hollin appealed, raising two issues: whether it was fundamental error for the trial court to admit evidence of his criminal history and whether the court properly sentenced him.

In his claim regarding his criminal history, Justice Robert Rucker wrote the Supreme Court has long held that it is permissible for the trial court to consider the same prior offenses for both enhancement of the instant offense and to establish habitual offender status.

Regarding his sentence, while the trial court properly exercised its discretion, the Supreme Court decided Hollin's crime didn't warrant the 40-year sentence. Most of Hollin's criminal history happened when he was a juvenile and none of the offenses, with the exception of a cruelty to animal charge, involved violence. His character and past transgressions do not justify the 40-year sentence, Justice Rucker wrote. The high court revised Hollin's burglary sentence to 10 years and imposed an additional 10 years for the habitual offender enhancement, for a total aggregate 20-year term.

Justice Brent Dickson dissented from the majority in terms of revising Hollin's sentence. He wrote that the appellate courts should refrain from revising sentences except in rare cases. Also, trial courts should know better than appellate courts what type of sentence is appropriate.
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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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