January 05, 2005

Indiana Law - Report of the Sentencing Policy Study Committee

Although this report is dated November 2004, I don't recall having seen anything about it. The 142-page Report of the Indiana Sentencing Policy Study Committee may be accessed here. This legislative study was chaired by Senator David Long. Of particular interest is the impact upon this study of the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Blakely v. Washington. Quoting from p. 15 of the Indiana report:

During the work group process the United State Supreme Court decision in Blakely v Washington was published. This landmark decision became the primary focus of the Criminal Code Revision Work Group. The decision held that:
A judge may not increase a defendant’s penalty beyond that which would be available “solely on the basis of the facts reflected in the jury verdict or admitted by the defendant.” Any fact (other than the fact of a prior conviction) necessary to enhance a penalty beyond that which is authorized solely by the jury verdict or guilty plea must be provided beyond a reasonable doubt, if not formally admitted by the defendant. When a sentencing system imposes an upper sentencing threshold, creating an effective maximum sentence, any facts necessary to go above that threshold are subject to jury determination, as are the standard elements of the offense. Thus, the use of judicially determined facts to increase a sentence beyond an effective maximum sentence violates defendants’ right to a trial by jury. (Blakely v Washington, 542 U.S.___; 124 S.Ct. 2531; No. 02-1632 (June 24, 2004)
The ultimate recommendation of the Committee relative to Blakely is found on what is page 92 of the pdf document:
Statutory changes to the criminal code that require the State prove the existence of aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt before a person convicted of a felony may receive a sentence greater than the presumptive, unless the person has one or more prior unrelated convictions; 2) requires the defendant be provided with notice of the State’s intention to seek a sentence greater than the presumptive; 3) requires a jury to reconvene to hear evidence on aggravating circumstances if a person is convicted of a felony in a jury trial; and 4) permits a defendant to waive their right to have a jury determine the existence of any aggravating circumstances. The Committee approved PD 3597 (Appendix 2), which is a bill draft incorporating these proposed changes in a 12-0 roll call vote. Judge Good voted as Chief Justice Shepard’s designee and abstained from the vote in the event the issue would ever come before the Indiana Supreme Court.
The proposed legislation begins on page 109 (Appendix 2) of the pdf document.

This bill has been introduced by Senators Long and Howard; it is Senate Bill 96.

Posted by Marcia Oddi at January 5, 2005 11:04 AM