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Supreme Court knocks down habitual-offender enhancement

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The Indiana Supreme Court found a habitual-offender enhancement tacked onto the 20-year sentence of a serious violent felon was an “impermissible double enhancement.”

Anthony H. Dye was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and found to be a habitual offender after a shootout at a music studio in Elkhart on March 18, 2007. During the incident, Dye was shot twice and his 20-year-old son, Jermaine Jackson, was killed.

The state subsequently charged Dye in Elkhart Superior Court with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a SVF.

In addition, the state sought to have Dye’s sentence enhanced under the habitual-offender statute which provides that the sentence of a person convicted of a felony can be enhanced up to 30 years if he or she previously has been convicted of two unrelated felonies. To prove Dye’s habitual-offender status, the state used a 1998 conviction for possession of a handgun within 1,000 feet of a school and a 1993 forgery conviction.

Dye pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a SVF. However, he filed a motion to dismiss the habitual-offender allegation, arguing that enhancing his sentence under the habitual-offender statute would constitute an impermissible double enhancement.

Denying the motion, the trial court moved forward with a jury trial on the habitual-offender allegation. After a two-day trial, the jury found that Dye was a habitual offender. The trial court sentenced him to the maximum 20 years imprisonment on the SVF conviction, enhanced by 30 years due to his status as a habitual offender. Then the court suspended 15 years to probation, for an executed term of 35 years.

The Supreme Court found Dye’s habitual-offender enhancement violated the rule against double enhancements for two reasons. First, the SVF statute Dye was convicted under is a progressive-penalty statute. Second, the general habitual-offender statute does not include “explicit legislative direction indicating that a double enhancement is proper here.”   

Finding that the trial court erred in denying Dye’s motion, the Supreme Court vacated the 30-year enhancement. Also, the Supreme Court summarily affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals that an executed term of 20 years imprisonment is not inappropriate. It remanded to the trial court with instructions to enter an order sentencing Dye to an executed term of 20 years.

Justice Mark Massa dissented, writing, "The courts of this state communicated to the General Assembly what was, and was not, permissible with respect to double enhancements. Several times, the General Assembly has responded. I believe their 2001 response amending the habitual offender statute shows first that the SVF statute is not a progressive penalty statute, and second that, even if the SVF statute were still subject to the general rule against double enhancement, there is explicit legislative direction permitting an adjudicated serious violent felon to be subject to additional enhancement under the general habitual offender statute."



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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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