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Man’s additional charges should have been dismissed

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The Whitley Superior Court should have granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss two operating while intoxicated charges because the charges came after he pleaded guilty to two other charges relating to the same initial traffic stop.

When Cody Honeycutt was stopped by police, Indiana State Police Sgt. Todd Reed smelled burnt marijuana on Honeycutt. Honeycutt also admitted to smoking the drug earlier in the day and handed a bag of it to the officer. Reed took Honeycutt for a blood draw, but while results of the test were pending, he pleaded guilty without counsel to Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana and a traffic infraction. He was sentenced to one year with all but eight days suspended.

When the results of the test came back a few days later, the state added two more charges under the same cause number: Class A misdemeanor operating while intoxicated and Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance in Honeycutt’s body. Now represented by an attorney, Honeycutt filed a motion dismiss on grounds they were barred by the Successive Prosecution Statute. The trial court denied it, and he was found guilty at a bench trial.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed. The state conceded that all four charges are connected, but it argued that it didn’t have probable cause to bring the operating charges at the same time as it brought the charge of possession of marijuana and traffic infraction.

The judges found there was probable cause to charge Honeycutt with the operating offenses at the same time, as Honeycutt had confessed to smoking the drug, there was marijuana on him, and based on the police sergeant’s observations of Honeycutt, Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in Cody B. Honeycutt v. State of Indiana, 92A04-1203-CR-149.

“If the State believed that the lab results were the key piece of evidence it needed to file the operating charges, then it should have completed its investigation, dismissed the initially-filed Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana and traffic infraction, and filed all four charges at the same time,” she wrote.

The Court of Appeals also held that Honeycutt did not waive his argument, as the state claimed, because both the trial court and the prosecutor warned him before he pleaded guilty that he could face more charges depending on the pending lab results.

 

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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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