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A Better Partnership
June 20, 2012

COA Opinion: Adult conviction resulting in juvenile sentence can be used as a predicate offense for sentencing as a habitual offender

In People v. Jones, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's conviction of a man for numerous counts including carjacking, assaulting a police officer, and resisting arrest. The defendant, a three-time offender, first argued that the trial court erred when it sentenced him as a third offense habitual offender, because, although he had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with intent to murder, he was sentenced for the crime as a juvenile, which should not count as an offense. In this issue of first impression, the Court of Appeals disagreed. It held that the governing statute only focused on whether the defendant had been convicted, not the nature of the sentencing. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's ruling that the defendant should be given an enhanced sentence for third offense habitual offenders. The defendant also argued that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his carjacking conviction because the police officer involved was not present when the defendant took the car. The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction because the defendant relied on an old statute for his defense, whereas the amended statute does not require presence as an element. Finally, the defendant asserted that the police officer in question attacked him first and that he was merely acting in self-defense. However, the Court of Appeals held that there was sufficient evidence to prove that the officer did not try to attack the defendant but was instead attempting to restrain him so that he could be arrested.

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