`

Continuous crime doctrine requires reversal of 2 domestic battery convictions

July 8, 2016

Because the evidence showed a man’s acts of domestic violence against his now ex-wife constituted a single transaction for purposes of the continuing crime doctrine, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed two of the man’s three convictions.

Ariel Gomez and Maria Chavez were divorcing and a preliminary order stated that Gomez would have temporary possession of “rental property rents” of the three properties the pair owned.  Chavez believed that she was awarded possession of a property on Rochester Avenue in Indianapolis and went to the property June 21, 2015, when she learned Gomez had rented it out. She intended to live there and stopped a woman from moving in. The woman called Gomez and he showed up approximately 10 minutes later. Gomez and Chavez got began arguing and in the course of three minutes, he had grabbed her by the hair and tried to get her out of the house. He pushed her against the wall several times and Chavez had scratches on her arm, her elbow was cut and her knee was bruised.

Gomez was convicted of three counts of Class A misdemeanor domestic battery. He appealed, claiming insufficient evidence to support the convictions and that the convictions violate the continuous crime doctrine.

The appellate judges rejected Gomez’s claim that he had been given the property in the preliminary order and the state did not negate his claim of defense of property. The evidence supports the conclusion that the force Gomez used to try to remove Chavez from the property as unreasonable in light of the urgency of the situation and unreasonable to protect an alleged interest he may have had in the rents from the property, Judge Elaine Brown wrote.

But Gomez did prevail on his continuous crime doctrine claim.

“Based upon the record and considering Chavez’s testimony describing Gomez’s acts while trying to push her out of the house, we conclude that the acts alleged in Counts II, III, and IV were sufficiently compressed in terms of time, place, singleness of purpose, and continuity of action so as to constitute a single transaction for purposes of the continuous crime doctrine,” Brown wrote.

The COA affirmed Count II and reversed counts III and IV, noting that his sentence will not change because he was ordered to serve concurrent sentences.

The case is Ariel Gomez v. State of Indiana,49A02-1511-CR-2000.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Recent Articles by Jennifer Nelson