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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. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

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