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Supreme Court remands drug convictions to eliminate double jeopardy violations

June 11, 2019

The Indiana Supreme Court remanded a guilty verdict Monday solely to eliminate the remaining double jeopardy violation in a man’s two drug-related convictions. Both convictions were enhanced based on the same evidence of his possession of a single firearm.

The case of Dwayne A. Springfield v. State of Indiana, 19S-CR-348, began after law enforcement apprehended Dwyane Springfield following a December 2016 traffic stop-turned-police chase.

Springfield was arrested and subsequently convicted of several crimes, including Level 4 felony possession of cocaine, Level 5 felony possession of a narcotic drug and Level 4 felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. He was also determined to be a habitual offender.

Springfield received an aggregate 30-year sentence, but the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Springfield’s conviction and accompanying sentence for Level 5 felony unlawful possession of a firearm in December.

Then in a Monday per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court granted transfer to address and eliminate a residual double jeopardy violation in Springfield’s case. Specifically, it targeted the two drug-related convictions at hand that were enhanced based on the possession of a single gun.

“Although the use of the same weapon during the commission of two or more distinct offenses may be used to enhance the level of each offense without offending double jeopardy protections, enhancing the level of two separate offenses for the continuous possession of a firearm would violate these principles,” the opinion states, citing a concurrence in Miller v. State, 790 N.E.2d 437, 439 (Ind. 2003). “The appropriate remedy to address such violations is to reduce one of the offending convictions to a lesser included offense, if doing so will eliminate the violation.”

The Supreme Court, thus, remanded the case to the trial court for entry of judgement on Springfield’s convictions for Level 4 felony possession of cocaine and Level 6 felony possession of a narcotic drug, a reduction from the original Level 5 felony conviction. It also remanded for the determination of an appropriate sentence for each conviction.

“We summarily affirm the opinion of the Court of Appeals in all other respects,” the opinion concluded. All justices concurred.

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