Steven Knecht Wins Appeal on Double Jeopardy Grounds
Steven Knecht won a reversal of a leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death conviction on appeal based on a double jeopardy violation.
The client’s truck hit a car, killing a mother and her child in the car. The client left the scene before police arrived. Without a plea agreement, the client pled guilty to 2 counts of failure to remain at the scene of accident resulting in death. One count was for the death of the mother and the other was for the child. The client received a 3 year sentence on each count to be served consecutively for a total sentence of 6 years.
The Indiana Court of Appeals held that when a defendant pleads guilty without a plea agreement, the defendant may raise a double jeopardy claim on appeal because he did not receive the benefit of a bargain from the State. Since the client was involved in only one accident for purposes of the statute that existed at the time of this offense, the client could not be convicted twice for leaving the scene of a single accident. Therefore, one of the convictions was reversed.
This successful argument, however, may not be available in the future. The Indiana legislature apparently attempting to prevent another successful double jeopardy argument amended the leaving the scene of an accident statute effective July 1, 2017 to allow multiple convictions for accidents resulting in multiple deaths. It shall be interesting to see if our appellate courts determine if this amendment violates the constitution.
With over 33 years of experience, Steven Knecht is familiar with the possible defenses to criminal charges. Few other attorney can match his trial experience and knowledge of criminal law and he can use that experience and knowledge to benefit you. If you find yourself having been arrested or falsely accused of a crime, you should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer such as Steven Knecht to help you fight the State.