Double jeopardy voids two cocaine convictions

September 16, 2015

A trial court violated the prohibition against double jeopardy by convicting a man in a bench trial of three felony cocaine possession counts, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in tossing out two of the convictions.

Timmie Bradley remains convicted of the most serious count, a Class A felony, but the trial court must vacate two Class C convictions, Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the panel in Timmie Bradley v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1404-CR-181. Bradley also was convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana possession count that stands after appeal.

Bradley was arrested when he returned to a home on north Alabama Street that police had been monitoring for drug activity. Before Bradley returned, Bryant Beatty allowed police to enter the house after they knocked on the door. Officers were in plain clothes but their badges were visible and they identified themselves as detectives, according to the record.  
After spotting cocaine in plain view in the kitchen as well as another suspect who attempted to elude them, police conducted a protective sweep of the kitchen and rounded up everyone in the house. When an officer found a handgun under a couch pillow, the occupants were handcuffed before being arrested.

Bradley challenged the officers’ entry and sweep of the home as violations of the Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. The panel rejected those claims.
“The trial court reasonably determined that Beatty validly consented to the Detectives’ entry into the home. The Detectives’ warrantless entry into the home, therefore, did not violate the Fourth Amendment,” Bradford wrote.

It also was reasonable for detectives to conduct the protective sweep under the circumstances, the panel held, and the evidence was sufficient to convict Bradley.

When Bradley entered the home, police found cocaine on him, and the panel noted the state failed to differentiate in charging information between those narcotics and those found in the kitchen. “As such, we conclude that Bradley’s conviction for Class C felony possession of cocaine and a firearm is barred by the prohibitions against double jeopardy because the same cocaine was used to support that conviction and Bradley’s conviction for Class A felony possession of cocaine.” The Class C felony also is a lesser included offense to the Class A felony.

Bradley’s sentence is likely to remain at 35 years in prison. That was his sentence for the Class A felony, and other terms imposed were to be served concurrent to the sentence on the most serious conviction.



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