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Judges reverse football player’s operating while intoxicated conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed with the state’s argument that prosecutorial discretion extends to the determination of which conviction should be vacated after a finding of double jeopardy.

Indianapolis Colts defensive end Fili Moala was convicted of Class C misdemeanors operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration between 0.08 and 0.15 and operating a vehicle while intoxicated; the convictions were merged by the trial court. He was also convicted of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication.

Moala and the state agree that the operating while intoxicated conviction and the public intoxication conviction violate double jeopardy, but they disagree as to which conviction should be vacated. The state wanted to drop the Class B misdemeanor public intoxication conviction because the Class C misdemeanor operating while intoxicated could have more severe penalties, such as license suspension, and may lead to a future Class D felony charge if Moala is arrested again for drunk driving.

The appellate judges noted there is not a less serious form of either offense to remedy the double jeopardy issue. Moala argued that the lower class offense should be vacated and the judges agreed.

“As we do not believe non-punitive sanctions should be considered as part of the penal consequences of a conviction, we also do not believe potential future consequences should be considered in determining the penal consequences of a conviction. Considering future consequences would be speculative and raises the possibility of disparate treatment in sentencing,” wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb in Fili Moala v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1109-CR-870.

The judges also rejected the state’s argument that it should have the discretion to determine which conviction should be vacated upon a finding of double jeopardy.

They reversed the Class C misdemeanor operating while intoxicated conviction and ordered the trial court vacate it.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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