Habitual offender changes not retroactive, COA holds

June 30, 2015

In affirming an Indianapolis man’s conviction of aggravated battery and a habitual offender adjudication, the Indiana Court of Appeals also held that revisions to the state’s habitual offender statute enacted a year ago are not retroactive.

“(W)e hold that the July 1, 2014, revisions to the habitual offender statute, Indiana Code Section 35-50-2-8, do not apply retroactively to offenses committed prior to the effective date of our new criminal code,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the panel in Scott Grundy v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1409-CR-665.
The panel affirmed Grundy’s Class B felony conviction and the habitual offender enhancement that resulted in an aggregate 20-year sentence. Grundy was convicted of an attack on his then-girlfriend’s co-worker. The opinion says the victim’s injuries “were severe, long-lasting, and, to some extent, permanent.” Grundy failed to persuade the panel that evidence against him was insufficient or that his sentence was inappropriate.

Grundy also asserted that the trial court erred in sentencing him under the habitual offender statute in place before July 1, 2014. Before then, habitual offenders could receive up to three times the advisory sentence for the underlying offense, not to exceed 30 years. The new statute allows enhancements of six to 20 years for someone convicted of murder or a Level 1-4 felony.

Grundy argued that if he had been sentenced according to the revised statute, he would have received a sentence totaling four years less than he received.

“Grundy concludes that ‘a person cannot have the status of being a habitual offender unless and until he has been convicted of the underlying felony.’ … While we acknowledge the creativity of Grundy’s argument, we disagree with his ultimate conclusion,” Najam wrote. “Although Grundy is correct that a habitual offender status ‘is not a separate crime,’ nevertheless, that status is attached to the underlying crime.”


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