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Justices reaffirm ruling on sentence enhancements under habitual offender statute

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The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday granted the state’s request for a rehearing in a case in which the justices determined that Anthony Dye’s sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, which was enhanced under the general habitual offender statute, was an impermissible double enhancement. The justices used the rehearing to reiterate that a person convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a SVF may not have his or her sentence enhanced under the general habitual offender statute by proof of the same felony used to establish that the person was a SVF.

In Anthony H. Dye v. State of Indiana, 20S04-1201-CR-5,  the state petitioned for rehearing contending the court’s decision in Dye’s case was a departure from Mills v. State, 868 N.E.2d 446, 452 (Ind. 2007), in that the justices held that serious violent felons who possess firearms cannot be punished as habitual offenders.

In Mills, the court held “a person convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon may not have his or her sentence enhanced under the general habitual offender statute by proof of the same felony used to establish that the person was a ‘serious violent felon.’” The justices reaffirmed the ruling, but pointed out that Dye is not entitled to relief on this ground.

Instead, the felony used to establish that Dye was a habitual offender was part of the same res gestae, and the enhancements must be based on two unrelated prior felonies. Dye's stemmed from a confrontation between Dye and an Elkhart Police officer in 1997, where he pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun, possession of a handgun within 1,000 feet of a school, and attempted battery while armed with a deadly weapon. The state used the possession within 1,000 feet of a school and a 1993 conviction for forgery to seek to have his sentenced enhanced under the general habitual offender statute. He was charged in 2007 - the conviction at issue in this case - with unlawful possession of a firearm by a SVF based on his conviction of attempted battery with a deadly weapon stemming from the 1997 incident.

“The State is not be permitted to support Dye's habitual offender finding with a conviction that arose out of the same res gestae that was the source of the conviction used to prove Dye was a serious violent felon,” Rucker wrote.

Justice Mark Massa concurred with his colleagues that the original opinion didn’t extend Mills to situations where different prior unrelated convictions are used to establish a habitual offender finding and the elements of the SVF statue, but continued to “dissent from the ultimate result on rehearing for reasons previously explained” in the original opinion.
 

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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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