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Justices approve 'double enhancement'

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The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the use of the same prior conviction to both elevate a defendant’s charge to a felony and find him a habitual substance offender because of explicit legislative direction on the enhancements.

In Clint Beldon v. State of Indiana, No. 43S05-0910-CR-496, Clint Beldon appealed the trial court’s usage of a prior Class D felony conviction to elevate his most recent conviction of operating while intoxicated in a manner that endangers a person from a Class A misdemeanor to Class D felony. Beldon also was sentenced as a habitual substance offender.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, but the Supreme Court found the trial court could use the same prior conviction based on legislation. Beldon’s 2003 Class D felony OWI conviction, which provided the predicate offense for the progressive penalty elevation of his misdemeanor conviction to a felony, was used as a predicate offense for the specialized habitual offender finding, not for a general habitual offender finding.

In general, absent explicit legislative direction, a sentence imposed following a conviction under a progressive penalty statute can’t be further increased under either the general habitual offender statute or a specific habitualized offender statute. But the requisite legislative direction exists to authorize an underlying elevated conviction to be enhanced by the specialized habitual substance offender enhancement, wrote Justice Frank Sullivan. A 1996 amendment provided direction that prior convictions for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, including those where the charge has been elevated because of a prior conviction, properly served as predicate offenses for habitual substance offender enhancements.

The justices also ruled against Beldon’s argument that the 2003 OWI conviction and the instant offense are not “unrelated” because the former was used to enhance the latter. But the high court already rejected that argument in Beach v. State, 496 N.E.2d 43, 44 (Ind. 1986).
 

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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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