COA affirms habitual offender enhancement

July 7, 2015

A habitual offender failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that an amended statute, which took effect July 1, 2014, should have been applied to enhance his dealing cocaine conviction.

Bryan A. Cox was charged on April 30, 2014, and a jury convicted him of the Class B felony on Oct. 15. He was sentenced to an aggregate executed sentence of 15 years in prison.

Cox argued on appeal that under the doctrine of amelioration, the trial court should have applied the amended habitual offender statute in enhancing his sentence. Writing for the panel, Judge John Baker noted Cox had waived this argument because defense counsel agreed he would be sentenced under the habitual offender statute on the books when he offended.

Nevertheless, the panel addressed Cox’s argument on the merits in Bryan A. Cox v. State of Indiana, 27A02-1412-CR-599.

“(W)hile Cox has shown that he was sentenced after the date of the amended statute and that the amended statute is more lenient, he cannot show that the legislature intended the doctrine to apply.  In fact, the legislature has clearly shown that it did not intend the doctrine of amelioration to apply,” Baker wrote, citing the clear statement to that effect in I.C. 1-1-5.5-21(b).  

“In the instant case, Cox’s crime was committed before, and all proceedings began before, the effective date of the amended habitual offender statute. In addition, it is clear that the legislature did not intend the doctrine of amelioration to apply. Therefore, Cox’s argument fails.”


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