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Judges uphold sentence, find prosecutorial misconduct claim moot

February 16, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a man’s convictions and sentence for possession of cocaine, resisting law enforcement and misdemeanor possession of marijuana, among other charges.

Frantz Jerry Sainvil appealed his convictions for Level 4 possession of cocaine, Class A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia, Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement and Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He argued the prosecutor committed misconduct by commenting on Sainvil’s failure to testify during his closing argument, and that his sentences were inappropriate under Indiana Appellate Rule 7B because of the nature of his offenses and his character.

Sainvil ran from the police after they pulled over the car he was a passenger in. The police thought the tint on the car was too dark. After a footchase, Sanvil was apprehended and charged with six counts. The state also added an habitual offender enhancement. A jury found him guilty of five of those counts, and sentenced him to 20 years at the Department of Correction.

The Court of Appeals found Sainvil’s charge that the prosecutor committed misconduct by commenting on his refusal to testify moot. Sainvil, who was accused of carrying a handgun without a license, claimed the gun that was on the ground with him was already there. His counsel said in closing arguments that crime scene photographs showed the gun concealed in leaves.  Because the issue of if there were leaves on the gun pertains to whether Sainvil owned it, Sainvil said only he could have contradicted it. He argued when the prosecutor stated an officer who found the gun said there were leaves on it, it alluded to Sainvil not testifying.

However, since the court did not find him guilty of carrying the gun without a license, the charge was determined moot.

Sainvil received the maximum sentences for each of his convictions and claimed he did not deserve that because his offenses were non-violent and the jury rejected the fact he had owned a gun during his offenses.  Also, he had never been convicted of a violent crime.

The court found Sainvil’s previous substance abuse convictions were more than enough to warrant his sentences, and he had previously been granted leniency and that had not changed his ways. His criminal career had spanned 16 years and he had consistently demonstrated a lack of respect for the law.

The case is Frantz Jerry Sainvil v. State of Indiana, 82A05-1505-CR-345.

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