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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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