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Judges amend man’s convictions due to double jeopardy violations

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Because the state relied on the same evidence to convict a Marion County man of three domestic battery or battery charges, the Indiana Court of Appeals vacated two misdemeanors. The judges also found no fundamental error in his sentencing or by the prosecutor during trial.

In Shiloh Jones v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1202-CR-74, Shiloh Jones appealed his convictions of Class D felonies domestic battery and criminal confinement, and Class A misdemeanors domestic battery and battery, as well as his 730-day sentence in the Department of Correction. The charges stem from a four-hour incident involving Jones and his girlfriend where he slapped and bit her, choked her, poured baby formula on her face and did not allow her to leave the home. Their two infant children were home at the time.

Jones was initially sentenced by Marion Superior Commissioner John Boyce, who presided over the trial, to two years on each felony count and one year on each misdemeanor count, with all sentences served concurrently. He was to serve one year in the DOC, six months on community corrections and six months on probation. But the court had to address a probation violation from a previous conviction, which led to Marion Superior Judge Barbara Collins resentencing Jones to the same length of sentence – 730 days, but all executed in the DOC.

The Court of Appeals reversed Jones’ misdemeanor battery and domestic battery convictions because the state used the same general terms to charge him with the three counts. The judges ordered the misdemeanor convictions and sentence vacated. They did not find, as Jones had argued, any double jeopardy violations regarding his criminal confinement conviction.

Jones argued that fundamental error occurred when Collins resentenced him and based on comments the prosecutor made saying that the girlfriend was telling the truth about the domestic battery incident. Collins did not increase Jones’ original sentence, but only required he serve its entirety in the DOC instead of having some probation or community corrections. This does not constitute fundamental error, Judge James Kirsch wrote, as the grant of probation is a favor and not a right.

With regards to the prosecutor’s statements, the appellate judges pointed out that Jones’ defense strategy was to challenge his girlfriend’s testimony was truthful. The woman’s credibility was at issue and both sides had their say on the matter, so the prosecutor’s statements did not place Jones in a position of grave peril nor deny him a fair trial, the judges held.

 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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