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Double jeopardy requires reversal of 1 of prisoner’s convictions

May 20, 2015

An inmate in the Miami Correctional Facility scored a partial victory before the Indiana Supreme Court Tuesday. The justices reversed one of his convictions for battering a correctional officer, but declined to reduce his eight-year sentence.

Cornelius Hines lunged toward officer Regina Bougher, pinned her to the wall and put her in a headlock. She was able to escape about five minutes later and suffered a cut to her mouth, pain and bruising in her ribs, and a concussion as a result of the attack. Hines was convicted of Class C felony criminal confinement and Class D felony battery, and he was sentenced to an aggregate of eight years. The trial court, concerned with double jeopardy issues, ordered the sentences served concurrently.

In Cornelius Hines v. State of Indiana, 52S05-1408-CR-563, Hines argued that his convictions violated double jeopardy under the Indiana Constitution and common law. He claimed that the continuous crime doctrine applies regardless of whether actions are charged as the same or distinct offenses and that his act of pushing the officer constitutes just one criminal conviction, citing Buchanan v. State, 913 N.E.2d 712, 720-21 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009).

“To the extent that Buchanan stands for the proposition that the continuous crime doctrine may be judicially extended to two distinct criminal offenses, we disagree,” Justice Brent Dickson wrote. The high court found the doctrine does not apply to the facts of these cases as Hines was not convicted of multiple charges of criminal confinement nor multiple convictions of battery.

But under the actual evidence test, Hines’ convictions violate double jeopardy under Article 1, Section 14 of the Indiana Constitution.

“Based on the charging information, jury instructions, and arguments of counsel, we find a reasonable possibility that the same evidence used by the jury to establish the essential elements of battery was also included among the evidence used by the jury to establish the essential elements of criminal confinement,” Dickson wrote. The justices ordered the Class D felony battery conviction vacated.

But they declined to revise Hines’ eight-year sentence – which included eight years on the confinement conviction and three years for the battery conviction. The justices cited his criminal history and character as reasons to uphold the sentence.


 

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