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Judges examine double jeopardy issues in child support case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has found a man’s three convictions on non-payment of child support for his three children don't violate double jeopardy principles, even though that issue is currently pending in another case before the Indiana Supreme Court.

In Felix C. Sickels v. State of Indiana, No. 20A03-1102-CR-66, the appellate court affirmed and reversed in part a case involving a northern Indiana man’s nonpayment of child support for his three children.

The non-support stems back to child support payments that Sickel didn’t make between 1997 and 1999, involving three children he and his wife had before their divorce in 1992. He lived out of state and the wife and children remained in Goshen, and Sickel was ordered to pay $118 in child support each week by a civil support order. But he didn’t pay that amount and was charged with three felony counts of non-payment in September 2001, each count alleging he accumulated an arrearage in excess of $15,000 per child.

Sickels was arrested in Michigan first in 2002 and three more times through the years, but released after Michigan authorities either didn’t notify Indiana about the arrest or he wasn’t extradited. Eventually, Sickels was brought back to Indiana in July 2010 on the felony non-support charges, and he was convicted at a bench trial, sentenced and ordered to pay more than $80,000 in unpaid support.

On appeal, Sickels argues that his conviction on three counts of non-payment involving one civil support order is a double jeopardy violation. The appellate court pointed out that Sickels is subject to the child support non-payment laws in place in the late 1990s, requiring a per-dependent arrearage of at least $10,000 to support each alleged Class C felony. Although this is an issue in a related child support payment and double jeopardy case currently before the Indiana Supreme Court in Sanjari v. State, 942 N.E.2d 134 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), the Court of Appeals panel concluded that in the context of double jeopardy Sickels’ three convictions do not violate the same elements test of the U.S. Constitution or the Indiana Constitution’s statutory elements test.

The court affirmed Sickels’ convictions and part of his sentence, but remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to clarify the restitution order because it is inconsistent with what was said at the sentencing hearing.

 

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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