The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that under Article 1, Section 13 of the Indiana Constitution, the right to counsel is violated only where a different offense is inextricably intertwined with the charge on which counsel is already representing the defendant.
The issue of whether police violate a defendant’s right to counsel if they approach him about an offense different than the one in which he is already being represented by a lawyer came before the high court in Christopher Jewell v. State of Indiana, No. 32S04-1104-CR-200. Christopher Jewell was originally arrested and charged with misdemeanor tattooing a minor for bringing his former stepdaughter to get a tattoo. Jewell retained an attorney to defend the charge. While the charge was pending, the stepdaughter said that she and Jewell had a sexual relationship for three years when she was a minor, while her mother and Jewell were still married. The stepdaughter, with the help of police, made recorded phone calls with Jewell that led to potentially incriminating statements about the sexual misconduct. He was then charged with three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, one count of child molesting, and two counts of child seduction.
He moved to suppress the incriminating statements, claiming they were obtained in violation of his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment and Article 1, Section 13 of the Indiana Constitution. The evidence was admitted, and he was found guilty on all six counts and sentenced to 40 years.
The Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentence after analyzing the “inextricably intertwined” exception under the Sixth Amendment and Indiana Constitution. After finding that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected this exception to the offense-specific nature of the Sixth Amendment in favor of a framework based on the Blockberger test for double jeopardy, the justices then looked to see whether it applies under the state constitution.
“In light of our traditional view that Article 1, Section 13 provides broader protection than the Sixth Amendment, we believe the ‘inextricably intertwined’ exception is appropriate under our Constitution. It properly reflects the balance we seek to maintain between society’s legitimate law enforcement needs and a defendant’s right to counsel,” wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard.
The high court applied the test to Jewell’s case and found that the sexual misconduct was not – based on the facts and circumstances known to the detective at the time the stepdaughter called Jewell – closely related to the offense of tattooing a minor as to be inextricably intertwined.