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Instant offense considered 'unrelated' per statute

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The trial court was correct in interpreting the state's habitual offender statute to include an instant conviction as one of the "unrelated" convictions referred to in the statute, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In Andre Syval Peoples v. State of Indiana, No. 79A02-0812-CR-1411, the parties disagreed as to how to calculate the total number of unrelated dealing convictions Andre Peoples had accumulated. Peoples pleaded guilty to dealing cocaine as a Class B felony and was found to be a habitual offender. He had two prior felony convictions in Illinois - forgery and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.

Peoples argued the habitual offender enhancement can't be attached to his instant conviction under Indiana Code Section 35-50-2-8(b)(3) of the habitual offender statute because his instant conviction is a drug offense, satisfying subsection (b)(3)(A). Also, he argued his number of priors for dealing doesn't exceed one, which satisfies subsection (b)(3)(C)(i)-(v) of the statute.

But Peoples' interpretation of the statute is incorrect because the language subsections (b)(3)(C) and (d)(3)(C) do not say more than one "prior" but require that "the total number of unrelated convictions" for certain drug offenses don't exceed one, wrote Judge Melissa May.

"Peoples' instant conviction of dealing cocaine and his prior conviction of cocaine possession with intent to deliver are undoubtedly 'unrelated' and the two convictions undoubtedly 'exceed one,'" she wrote.

The judges agreed with the state's argument that the statute isn't limited to only prior convictions but requires the summation of the total number of unrelated convictions a defendant has gotten for dealing drugs. The absence of the word "prior" from those two subsections reflects legislative intent to include the instant conviction as one of the "unrelated" convictions referred to in those subsections, wrote the judge.

"While we agree with those decisions that have characterized this statute as 'confusing,' we cannot say the reference to 'unrelated offenses' is susceptible to the additional interpretation Peoples urges as limited to 'prior' offenses," she wrote.

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  1. Bob Stochel was opposing counsel to me in several federal cases (including a jury trial before Judge Tinder) here in SDIN. He is a very competent defense and trial lawyer who knows federal civil procedure and consumer law quite well. Bob gave us a run for our money when he appeared on a case.

  2. Awesome, Brian! Very proud of you and proud to have you as a partner!

  3. Oh, the name calling was not name calling, it was merely social commentary making this point, which is on the minds of many, as an aside to the article's focus: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111082327AAmlmMa Or, if you prefer a local angle, I give you exhibit A in that analysis of viva la difference: http://fox59.com/2015/03/16/moed-appears-on-house-floor-says-hes-not-resigning/

  4. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  5. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

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