Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana

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At issue was what, if any, ability a trial court has to resentence a criminal defendant on felonies underlying a criminal gang enhancement, see Ind. Code 35-50-2-15, when an appellate court has reversed that enhancement and remanded to the trial court. Defendant was found guilty by a jury of committing several criminal offenses in connection with a criminal gang. In applying the criminal gang enhancement statute, the trial court increased Defendant’s overall sentence by thirty years. The Court of Appeals reversed the enhancement. The State and Defendant disputed here the extent of the trial court’s sentencing authority on remand. The Supreme Court held that the criminal gang enhancement statute unambiguously increases the punishment for all the felonies that underlie the enhancement and that vacating such an enhancement disturbs the punishment originally imposed. Therefore, when an appellate court reverses a criminal gang enhancement, on remand, the trial court must resentence a defendant on all surviving underlying felonies. View "Jackson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for Level 1 felony child molestation, holding that proof of the slightest penetration of the sex organ, including penetration of the external genitalia, is sufficient to demonstrate a person performed “other sexual misconduct” with a child under Ind. Code 35-42-4-3. Section 35-42-4-3 prohibits a person from knowingly or intentionally performing sexual intercourse or other sexual misconduct with a child under fourteen years of age. The offense is a Level 1 felony if committed by a person who is at least twenty-one years old. “Other sexual misconduct” includes “an act involving…the penetration of the sex organ or anus of a person by an object.” On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to prove “penetration” for purposes of section 35-42-4-3 defining other sexual misconduct. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, holding that the evidence demonstrated that Defendant committed other sexual misconduct with a child. View "Boggs v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether multiple felony convictions are authorized by Ind. Code 35-44.1-3-1 where a single act of resisting law enforcement while operating a vehicle causes the death of one person and serious bodily injuries to two other people. Defendant was convicted of multiple counts of felony resisting law enforcement. The felony convictions varied in levels - one conviction was a level three felony while two others were level five felonies. The Supreme Court reversed on two level five felony resisting law enforcement convictions and affirmed as to the remaining convictions, holding that Indiana’s resisting law enforcement statute, section 35-44.1-3-1, authorizes only one felony conviction - the highest chargeable offense - where a single act of resisting causes death and serious bodily injury. View "Edmonds v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether a defendant can be convicted of multiple felony resisting law enforcement charges when those charges stem from a single incident of resisting. Defendant pleaded guilty to three felony counts of resisting law enforcement and operating a vehicle with methamphetamine in his blood causing serious boldly injury. On appeal, Defendant argued that Indiana’s resisting law enforcement statute, Ind. Code 35-44.1-3-1, authorizes only one conviction for each act of resisting, and therefore, the trial court erred when it entered three convictions and sentences against him. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that section 35-44.1-3-1 authorizes only one conviction for felony resisting law enforcement where the defendant engages in a single act of resisting while operating a vehicle that causes multiple deaths. View "Paquette v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the lower courts dismissing Defendant’s charge of voluntary manslaughter. In dismissing the charge, both of the lower courts found (1) the Criminal Rule 4(C) period within which to bring Defendant to trial had expired, and the delays in bringing him to trial were not attributable to Defendant; and (2) the prosecutorial misconduct in this case required dismissal. The Supreme Court remanded for the trial court to hold a hearing or proceed to trial, holding (1) the delays associated with Defendant’s interlocutory appeal and motion for change of judge were attributable to Defendant, and therefore, he was not entitled to a discharge pursuant to Rule 4(C); and (2) State v. Taylor, 49 N.E.3d 1019 (Ind. 2016), applies in this case, and outright dismissal is not the appropriate remedy for the State’s misconduct. View "State v. Larkin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the parts of the opinion of the court of appeals that addressed and rejected J.R.’s challenge to a pat-down search and remanded to the juvenile court to vacate the delinquency adjudication for carrying a handgun without a license (CHWOL) and affirmed the delinquency adjudication for dangerous possession of a firearm, as all parties agreed that double jeopardy principles precluded J.R.’s dual adjudications. The juvenile court found sixteen-year-old J.R. delinquent for committing acts that would be dangerous possession of a firearm and CHWOL, had they been committed by an adult. On appeal, J.R. argued that a pat-down search violated his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches. The court of appeals concluded that the pat-down search was constitutional but that J.R.’s adjudication for CHWOL should be vacated on double jeopardy grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "J.R. v. State" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not err in admitting Defendant’s incriminating statements made in a motel room during the course of a custodial interrogation without an electronic recording of those statements. Defendant was charged with and convicted of several drug crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued that two post-Miranda self-incriminating statements he made to officers in a motel room should not have been admitted into evidence because no electronic recording of the statements was made available at trial, as required by Ind. R. Evid. 617. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a motel room, as used by law enforcement in this case to carry out an undercover investigation and to search a suspect incident to his arrest, is not a place of detention as defined by Rule 617. View "Fansler v. State" on Justia Law

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Custodial interrogation for purposes of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), at public schools requires police involvement, and so when school officials alone meet with students Miranda warnings are not required. After D.Z. was called into the office of the assistant principal of a high school he confessed to writing sexual graffiti on the school’s boys-bathroom walls. The State filed a delinquency petition alleging that D.Z. committed criminal mischief and harassment. The juvenile court found that D.Z. had committed criminal mischief. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that D.Z.’s statements to the assistant principal should have been suppressed because D.Z. was under custodial interrogation. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed the criminal-mischief adjudication, holding that D.Z. was not entitled to Miranda warnings because he was interviewed only by a school official - not by police. View "D.Z. v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was when public school students are entitled to Miranda warnings at school. B.A., who was thirteen years old, was escorted from a school bus and questioned in a vice-principal’s office in response to a bomb threat on a bathroom wall. Three officers wearing police uniforms hovered over B.A. and encouraged him to confess. B.A. moved to suppress the evidence from his interview, arguing that he was entitled to Miranda warnings because he was under custodial interrogation and officers failed to secure waiver of his Miranda rights under Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute, Ind. Code 31-32-5-1. The juvenile court denied the motion and found B.A. delinquent for committing false reporting and institutional criminal mischief. The Supreme Court reversed B.A.’s delinquency adjudications, holding (1) B.A. was in police custody and under police interrogation when he made the incriminating statements; and (2) therefore, B.A.’s statements should have been suppressed under both Miranda and Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute. View "B.A. v. State" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant’s affirmative actions at trial resulted in a violation of his right to an impartial jury, the invited-error doctrine required that Defendant’s conviction be affirmed. After a second trial, Defendant was found guilty of murder. During trial, defense counsel expressly agreed to the trial court’s constitutionally defective procedure for removing and replacing a juror after deliberations had begun. On appeal, Defendant argued that, despite his acquiescence, the court’s procedure violated his constitutional right to an impartial jury, thus resulting in reversible error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there is no reason to exempt structural errors from the invited-error doctrine; and (2) Defendant invited the error in this case as part of a deliberate trial strategy, and therefore, his conviction must be affirmed. View "Durden v. State" on Justia Law