New Supreme Court double jeopardy tests lead to COA reversal

An appellate panel has reversed a man’s confinement and kidnapping convictions for violations of substantive double jeopardy, following the lead of two recent Indiana Supreme Court decisions that changed the double jeopardy analysis.

When a package for Quantavious Jones did not appear at his girlfriend, A.C.’s, house, where the delivery was supposed to occur, Jones drove A.C. to Irving Madden’s home. A.C. became suspicious on the drive over, and when they arrived at Madden’s home, the men repeatedly beat her, choked her and poured scalding water all over her body.

When Madden asked if they should kill A.C., Jones said they should let her go and began calling her family and friends, asking about the package and demanding $3,000 for A.C.’s release. The men later dropped her off in an unknown neighborhood where A.C. was able to call for help using the phone of a stranger. She sustained abrasions to her face and severe burns on her arms, chest, back and legs.

Both men were eventually arrested, and Jones was charged with multiple felonies including robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, criminal confinement while armed with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, kidnapping with bodily injury, battery resulting in serious bodily injury, strangulation, kidnapping for ransom, and criminal confinement with intent to obtain ransom.

After a jury trial, Jones was convicted of two counts Level 3 felony aggravated battery, one count of Level 2 felony criminal confinement and two counts of kidnapping – one as a Level 2 felony and one as a Level 5 – and was sentenced to an aggregate 40 years in prison. He was found not guilty of Level 3 felony criminal confinement and Level 5 felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury.

On appeal, Jones argued the appellate court should vacate one of his two aggravated battery convictions and both of his kidnapping convictions because they violated the continuous crime doctrine. But while briefs were being filed in the case, the Indiana Supreme Court issued two decisions –Wadle v. State, 151 N.E.3d 227 (Ind. 2020), and Powell v. State, 151 N.E.3d 256 (Ind. 2020) – that called into question whether common law double jeopardy doctrines such as the continuing crime doctrine still act as independent sources of relief.

“Jones argues that this change has nothing to do with his continuous crime doctrine claims and those claims still act as an independent source of review. We disagree,” Judge Leanna Weissmann, the newest member of the Court of Appeals, wrote Thursday. “Wadle and Powell not only overruled the constitutional substantive double jeopardy test in (Richardson v. State, 717 N.E.2d 32 (Ind. 1999)), they also swallowed statutory and common law to create one unified framework for substantive double jeopardy claims — including the continuous crime doctrine.

“… The test under Wadle and Powell applies to Jones’s multiplicity claim. And even if it did not, the result would be the same,” Weissmann continued. “Under both the old continuous crime doctrine test and the new uniform substantive double jeopardy test, Jones’s battery convictions survive, but his Level 5 felony kidnapping and Level 2 felony criminal confinement convictions must fall.”

First, the appellate court concluded that only one offense of kidnapping occurred under the statute. It noted that the only things that distinguish the Level 2 conviction, injury, from the Level 5 conviction, ransom, are result and motive – neither of which are units of prosecution for kidnapping. It therefore remanded with instructions to vacate the Level 5 felony kidnapping conviction and resentence Jones accordingly.

The panel likewise found that Jones’ Level 2 felony kidnapping and criminal confinement convictions were continuous and, thus, the criminal confinement conviction must fall.

“The defendant’s actions were compressed in terms of time, place, singleness of purpose and continuity of action because they were the same actions. Convicting Jones of both kidnapping and criminal confinement therefore violated the prohibition on substantive double jeopardy. We remand with instructions to vacate the criminal confinement conviction in line with the included offense statute and to resentence accordingly,” Weissmann concluded.

Judge Nancy Vaidik concurred, but she wrote separately to add an observation about applying Wadle and Powell to future cases.

Noting the courts will “be asked to sort out scenarios we can only now imagine,” Vaidik wrote that “(i) t is attractive, yet unrealistic, to believe that these two tests can be superimposed on any future contingencies and provide the answer to all our double-jeopardy queries.”

“Neither test may provide the perfect fit,” Vaidik wrote. “Instead of trying to cram each possibility into the Wadle bucket or the Powell bucket, we should be guided by the principles expounded in the two cases.”

The case is Quantavious Jones v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-202.

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