Court upholds serious violent felon finding, despite not using term ‘SVF’

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a man’s claim that because a stipulation to being a serious violent felon did not use the term “serious violent felon,” the state didn’t establish that as his status.

Terrance Bowens was charged with Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a SVF after hospital security officers discovered a firearm in the pocket of the coat he was wearing when he was picked up by an ambulance.  

In Terrance Bowens v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1404-CR-151, Bowens claims the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt his status as a SVF. The charging information specified that Bowens was convicted of Class C felony battery in 1995, which he does not dispute.

At his trial, the judge chose to remove all references to the SVF label during trial in order to avoid prejudice after Bowens’ counsel filed a motion to bifurcate the proceedings. The parties entered into a stipulation, which said that Bowens “is a person barred from possessing a firearm under Indiana Code 35-47-4-5.”

“Essentially, Bowens now argues that because the stipulation did not use the term SVF, it failed to establish his status as an SVF — an element of the offense. In other words, he posits that “a person barred from possessing a firearm under Indiana Code Section 35-47-4-5” is somehow different from an SVF. It is not,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “Indiana Code Section 35-47-4-5 concerns only SVF status and offenses, and, as such, a person barred from possessing a firearm under the statute must be an SVF. In short, Bowens stipulated to his SVF status and cannot now be heard to complain that the State failed to prove that status.”


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