Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of six offenses, including unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon in violation of Ind. Code 35-50-2-8, holding that none of Defendant's allegations of error required reversal.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in giving Preliminary Instruction 18, and that the error was fundamental. The court of appeals agreed and reversed. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed, holding (1) Defendant invited any error that arose from Preliminary Instruction 18, which precluded relief on direct appeal; (2) the traffic stop leading to Defendant's arrest did not violate the Fourth Amendment; and (3) Defendant waived his last allegation of error. View "Miller v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court declining to allow Defendant, who was charged with several counts of child molesting, from deposing the child victim under the recently-enacted Ind. Code 35-40-5-11.5, which restricts the statutory right of criminal defendants accused of sexual offenses against children to depose prosecution witnesses, holding that there was no error.In 2020, the State charged Defendant with several counts of child molesting. Before Defendant sought to depose the child victim section 35-40-5-11.5 took effect. The trial court denied Defendant's ensuing motion to depose the child under the statute. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the statute impermissibly conflicted with the Indiana Trial Rules governing the conduct of depositions. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed, holding (1) the statute was not being retroactively applied to Defendant; (2) the statute was not a procedural statute that could conflict with the Trial Rules and it did not violate constitutional separation of powers provisions; and (3) the statute did not violate any of Defendant's state or federal constitutional rights. View "Church v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court against the State on the State's delinquency petition that it filed against Anthony Neukam, holding that neither the juvenile court nor the circuit court had jurisdiction in this case.Neukam allegedly molested his young cousin both before and after he was eighteen. When Nuekam was twenty, the State brought charges against him in criminal court. When Neukam was twenty-two, the State filed a delinquency petition in juvenile court for acts Neukam allegedly committed before turning eighteen. Thereafter, the Supreme Court decided that juvenile courts lack jurisdiction over delinquency petitions once the accused is age twenty-one. The State then dismissed the juvenile case and moved to amend the criminal case to add counts of child molesting Neukam allegedly committed before he was eighteen. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that courts lack jurisdiction when an individual is alleged to have committed a delinquent act before turning eighteen but is over twenty-one when the State files charges. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed, holding that no court had jurisdiction over the charges arising from arising from Neukam's alleged misconduct before his eighteenth birthday. View "State v. Neukam" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for level-2 felony burglary while armed with a deadly weapon but reversed his sentence, holding that the length of Defendant's aggregate sentence exceeded the consecutive sentencing cap imposed by Ind. Code 35-50-1-2.A jury found Defendant guilty as charged and sentenced him to consecutive sentences cultivating in an aggregate term of thirty-eight and one-half years. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) burglary is an ongoing crime that encompasses a defendant's conduct inside the premises, terminating only when the unlawful invasion ends; and (2) the length of Defendant's aggregate sentence exceeded the maximum aggregate sentence permitted by the Sentencing Cap Statute. View "Fix v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's sentence imposed in connection with his plea of guilty to four charges, including operating a vehicle while intoxicated and possession of marijuana, holding that any error was harmless.The trial court sentenced Defendant to a total of six years, with two suspended to probation. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court committed fundamental error by incorrectly advising him of his right to allocution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to prove that his sentence would have been different had he not testified and been subject to cross-examination. View "Strack v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of one count of felony child molestation, holding that the trial court denied Defendant's requests for a continuance.An impermissible local rule and an improperly issued protective order prevented Defendant's defense attorney from obtaining a copy of the alleged victim's interview. Further, the trial court denied Defendant's requests for a continuance when the state disclosed extensive new evidence the day before trial in order to investigate the new allegations and reconstruct trial strategy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court (1) erred in prohibiting Defendant from obtaining a copy of the interview before trial, but reversal was not required on this basis; and (2) abused its discretion by denying Defendant's continuance request, and the error was prejudicial. View "Ramirez v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the post-conviction court concluding that Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing, holding that Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel.Defendant was convicted of murdering his brother when Defendant was seventeen years old. Defendant sought post-conviction relief alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing. The post-conviction court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant did not meet his burden to show that counsel's performance fell objectively below professional norms or that he was prejudiced by any of counsel's alleged errors. View "Conley v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's order denying Petitioner's motion for bond reduction or conditional pretrial release, holding that the General Assembly's recent codification of Criminal Rule 26 and the adoption of evidence-based practices in the administration of bail enhances, rather than restricts, the discretion entrusted to trial courts when executing bail.Petitioner was charged with the level-two felony offense of aiding, inducing, or causing burglary with a deadly weapon. The trial court set Petitioner's bond at $50,000 cash-only. After she was found eligible for home detention, Petitioner filed a motion for a bond reduction or conditional pretrial release. The court of appeals denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) trial courts should consider any factor relevant to the detainee's risk of nonappearance and potential danger to the community, and Indiana's recent bail reforms enhance the courts' discretion; and (2) clear and convincing evidence supported the trial court's bail determination. View "Dewees v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals dismissing in part, affirming in part, and reversing in part the judgment of the trial court in this criminal case but reversed the court of appeals' conclusion that remand for a new sentencing was unnecessary, holding that remand was necessary.Defendant was convicted of several offenses for driving his vehicle while intoxicated with his three young grandchildren in the vehicle. On appeal, Defendant argued that his multiple convictions constituted double jeopardy and that the trial court erred in sentencing. The court of appeals remanded the case in part with instructions. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed with one exception, holding that, given the multiple irregularities in Defendant's sentence, remand for resentencing was appropriate. View "McDonald v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss the charges brought against him and finding that Ind. Code 35-45-4-8 violated the state and federal constitutions, holding that the State alleged an offense and that the statute is constitutional.Defendant captured cell phone video of his girlfriend performing oral sex on him and then sent it to another person. Defendant was charged under section 35-45-4-8, which criminalizes the non-consensual distribution of an "intimate image." Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the statute was unconstitutional on free speech grounds. The trial court granted the motion, finding the statute unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the State properly charged Defendant with violating section 35-45-4-8; and (2) the statute does not violate either the free interchange clause of the Indiana Constitution or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. View "State v. Katz" on Justia Law