Double Jeopardy is a term that most have heard of before, whether it be from personal experience, a book, or television show. But what is this concept of “double jeopardy” and how is it applied? In a nutshell, double jeopardy protects a person from being convicted of the same crime twice. Both the U.S. Constitution and the Indiana Constitution have clauses protecting against double jeopardy. While the definition of double jeopardy seems straight forward, its application is not so clear. The Indiana Court of Appeals recently discussed the inner workings of the double jeopardy clause in their recent decision of Powel v. State.1 The refinement and clarification of “double jeopardy” in this important case is the focus of this blog post.
In Powell, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a Defendant’s attempted murder conviction on the grounds that it violated double jeopardy. The relevant facts are as follows: In 2017, the Defendant, Alain Powell, was in an altercation with Travis Nichols. Nichols was at the house of a man named Tyler Howard. Howard had recently borrowed Travis’ car, and Travis was claiming that Howard had refused to give the car back. Travis thereby went to Howard’s house to retrieve the car along with an individual by the name of Davyn Nichols. Howard called Powell and informed him that Travis was at his house. Powell subsequently went to Howard’s home and found Travis’ car in the driveway. The two individuals had an altercation, and upon seeing that Powell had a firearm, Travis attempted to drive away. Powell thereby fired five shots at the car and struck Davyn twice. Powell was thereby charged with eight different counts, including attempted murder of Travis and Davyn.
Powell was subsequently convicted of attempted murder, a level 1 felony, of Travis and Davyn. Powell appealed the decision of the trial court. On appeal, Powell raised three issues, with the Court ruling in the State’s favor of the first two issues. The Court of Appeals, however, agreed with Powell on his third issue raised, that being that the two attempted murder convictions violated the double jeopardy clause. In reaching this decision, the Court of Appeals pointed out the fact that the evidence presented for both convictions was virtually the same. Specifically, the Court stated, “there was no additional evidence that Powell intended to kill a specific victim or took additional steps to kill a specific victim.” As such, the Court vacated the conviction as a violation of the double jeopardy clause.
This case highlights the importance of staying up to date in the ever-changing legal landscape. Knowing the status of developments in the law is the key to avoiding criminal liability, as well as being an engaged citizenry in our participatory system of government. This blog post on a key new case was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle criminal defense cases and appeals of criminal convictions throughout the state. This blog is written for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.