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Man’s Indiana conviction for stealing car barred by Kentucky conviction

June 4, 2015

A man who stole a car in Vanderburgh County, fled into Kentucky and then was arrested and charged with similar crimes of auto theft and fleeing police in both states had his Indiana auto theft conviction reversed by the Court of Appeals Thursday.

Justin Brewer stole a Dodge Challenger in Vanderburgh County. As Evansville police attempted to apprehend him, he took off and entered Kentucky. Police in Henderson, Kentucky, arrested Brewer after he crashed the car while fleeing from police.

He pleaded guilty in January 2014 in Kentucky to receiving stolen property and fleeing/evading the police, entered as felonies. In August 2014, Brewer was convicted in Indiana of Class D felonies auto theft and resisting law enforcement based on the same incident. He wanted the convictions vacated based on double jeopardy, but the trial court denied his motion.

In Justin Brewer v. State of Indiana, 82A05-1410-CR-458, the state concedes that Brewer’s Kentucky conviction for receiving stolen property prevented Indiana from prosecuting him for auto theft, so the judges ordered that conviction and sentence vacated.

But they denied Brewer’s claim that he could not be convicted of resisting law enforcement in Indiana since he was convicted of a similar charge in Kentucky. His act of fleeing Kentucky police was an offense wholly within the jurisdiction of Kentucky and Indiana has no jurisdiction to prosecute him for that act within Kentucky. The same is true for his fleeing from police in Indiana, so the double jeopardy statute does not prohibit Indiana’s prosecution of him for this offense.

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