False-statement conviction vacated for double jeopardy after woman falsified form to recover grandfather’s handgun

A woman who provided false information on a document to recover a handgun she had pawned was wrongly convicted on double jeopardy grounds, according to the Court of Appeals of Indiana. However, one of the woman’s two felony convictions will not be vacated.

On an undisclosed date, Kimberly Vanderveer inherited a Smith & Wesson .357 caliber revolver from her grandfather. She pawned the handgun at Fares Pawn Shop in Evansville in April 2019.

In July 2019, Vanderveer was arrested following a traffic stop, and two days later, under Cause Number 82C01-1907-F6-4784, the state charged her with five crimes, including one felony. She pleaded not guilty.

Shortly thereafter, Vanderveer returned to the pawn shop to redeem the handgun. To obtain thegun, she had to complete ATF Form 4473 from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and check “Yes” or “No” to answer a series of questions, one of which asked, “Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?” Vanderveer checked the box for “No.”

Fares submitted Vanderveer’s form for government review, but her request to recover the gun was denied.

Because Vanderveer had been charged in Cause F6-4784 with a felony that could result in imprisonment longer than one year, the state charged her with Level 5 felony using false information to obtain a handgun and Level 6 felony making a false statement on a criminal history information form. A jury found Vanderveer guilty of both crimes.

The Vanderburgh Circuit Court entered the convictions, imposed a two-year sentence for the Level 5 felony and a one-year sentence for the Level 6 felony, suspended both sentences to probation and ordered the sentences served concurrently.

On appeal, Vanderveer argued double jeopardy principles prohibited her simultaneous conviction of both crimes, as both allegations were based on a single answer that she provided on a single criminal history form. She also argued the state failed to prove her false statement on the form was made knowingly or intentionally.

The state acknowledged the evidence presented at trial was that Vanderveer falsified a singular form and conceded her convictions were “established by proof of the same material elements” such that one is “included” in the other. Thus, the COA vacated Vanderveer’s conviction for Level 6 felony making a false statement on a criminal history information form on double jeopardy grounds.

But regarding Vanderveer’s second argument, the COA refused to reweigh the evidence.

“While the record before us would have permitted the jury to determine Vanderveer’s falsification of the form was neither knowing nor intentional, we may not invade the province of the jury to reweigh that evidence,” Judge Melissa May opined for the COA. “The record permitted the jury to determine Vanderveer purposefully falsified Form 4473 because she wanted to retrieve the handgun that had belonged to her grandfather, and we therefore affirm.”

The case is Kimberly S. Vanderveer v. State of Indiana, 21A-CR-1688.

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