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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. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  2. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  3. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

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