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Double sentencing enhancements don’t violate precedent

June 26, 2017

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled double enhancements that added 25 years to a man’s sentence did not violate precedent because each was given for a different offense.

Travis Lee Woodruff was convicted of Level 3 felony aggravated battery and Level 5 felony intimidation after he shot an acquaintance in the chest during a scuffle in a motel room.

Hendricks Superior Court sentenced Woodruff to 15 years for the aggravated battery conviction and two years for the intimidation conviction. Then the court enhanced the prison term by 15 years for being a habitual offender and by another 10 years for the use of a firearm. Woodruff received an aggregate sentence of 40 years. 

On appeal, Woodruff pointed to Dye v. State, 972 N.E.2d 853 (Ind. 2012), aff’d on reh’g, 984 N.E.2d 625 (Ind. 2013) and argued the Indiana Supreme Court had ruled that double enhancements were impermissible.

The Court of Appeals held Woodruff was misinterpreting the ruling. In Dye, the Supreme Court vacated the double enhancement because the past felonious conduct used as the basis for first enhancement was part of the same “uninterrupted transaction” on which the second enhancement was based.

“In sum, there is no impermissible double enhancement here because only one type of repeat offender statute that enhanced Woodruff’s conviction was applied,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the court. “Ultimately, Woodruff’s aggravated battery conviction resulted in a dual enhancement, not for the same prior crimes, but for committing aggravated battery with a firearm while being a habitual offender.”

The appellate panel did remand with instructions that the trial court vacate the separate sentence on the habitual offender enhancement and attach the enhancement to Woodruff’s sentence for aggravated battery.

The case is Travis L. Woodruff v. State of Indiana, 32A01-1612-CR-2751.

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