Wadle v. State

Decision Date18 August 2020
Docket NumberSupreme Court Case No. 19S-CR-340
Citation151 N.E.3d 227
Parties Jordan B. WADLE, Appellant (Defendant), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff).
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Cara Schaefer Wieneke, Wieneke Law Office, LLC, Brooklyn, Indiana

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Curtis T. Hill, Jr., Attorney General of Indiana, Caroline G. Templeton, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana

On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 18A-CR-1465

Goff, Justice.

Historically, the prohibition against double jeopardy applied as a procedural bar to a subsequent prosecution for the same offense, whether after acquittal or conviction. Over time, the protection evolved beyond the procedural context to embody a substantive bar to multiple convictions or punishments for the same offense in a single trial. Today, courts often treat these two strands of double jeopardy alike, applying the same analysis regardless of context. The historical record reveals our own vacillation on the issue.1 But just over two decades ago, this Court, in Richardson v. State , resolved any lingering doubt by treating both strands with equal reverence under the Indiana Constitution.

In settling this issue, the Richardson Court adopted a comprehensive analytical framework—consisting of a "statutory elements" test and an "actual evidence" test—for deciding all substantive double-jeopardy claims under article 1, section 14. Subsequent application of these tests, however, proved largely untenable, ultimately forcing the Court to retreat from its all-inclusive analytical framework. What we're left with today is a patchwork of conflicting precedent and inconsistent standards, ultimately depriving the Indiana bench and bar of proper guidance in this area of the law.

To be sure, we commend our predecessors on the Richardson Court for their exhaustive survey, insightful analyses, and critical commentaries on the nuances of double-jeopardy law in Indiana (and beyond). At its very core, Richardson is a true work of legal scholarship. But when our case law evolves in unexpected and contradictory ways, we would be remiss in preserving the status quo.

To that end, we expressly overrule the Richardson constitutional tests in resolving claims of substantive double jeopardy. Going forward, and with a focus on statutory interpretation, we adopt an analytical framework that applies the statutory rules of double jeopardy. See infra Section I.B.3. This framework, which applies when a defendant's single act or transaction implicates multiple criminal statutes (rather than a single statute), consists of a two-part inquiry: First, a court must determine, under our included-offense statutes, whether one charged offense encompasses another charged offense. Second, a court must look at the underlying facts—as alleged in the information and as adduced at trial—to determine whether the charged offenses are the "same." If the facts show two separate and distinct crimes, there's no violation of substantive double jeopardy, even if one offense is, by definition, "included" in the other. But if the facts show only a single continuous crime, and one statutory offense is included in the other, then the presumption is that the legislation intends for alternative (rather than cumulative) sanctions. The State can rebut this presumption only by showing that the statute—either in express terms or by unmistakable implication—clearly permits multiple punishment.

The defendant here stands convicted of several offenses for leaving the scene of an accident after twice striking and seriously injuring his victim while driving drunk. Because we interpret the statutory offenses charged as alternative sanctions, we hold that the defendant's multiple convictions violate the statutory rules of substantive double jeopardy. Accordingly, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand with instructions for the trial court to vacate all but one of his convictions: Level 3 felony leaving the scene of an accident. And because this conviction alone justifies the penalty imposed, we further instruct the trial court to leave in place his sixteen-year sentence with two years suspended to probation.

Facts and Procedural History

Jordan Wadle went out drinking with some friends one night at a local bar in Connersville, Indiana. At some point that evening, Wadle apparently made unsolicited sexual advances toward a woman. The woman's husband and his brother, Charles Woodward, later confronted Wadle over the incident in the parking lot. Although physically unprovoked by his interrogators, Wadle went on the offensive, punching and kicking Woodward. Wadle then returned to his car, suggesting an end to the fracas. But as Woodward retreated, Wadle's car struck him from behind. Hell-bent on causing further injury, Wadle struck Woodward a second time, pinning him under a guardrail adjacent to the bar. Wadle then sped away, leaving his broken victim behind. Police caught up with the suspected malefactor about an hour later just outside of town. Testing later revealed Wadle had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit. Woodward ultimately survived the attack but spent nearly sixty days in the intensive care unit, having underwent surgery for a fractured skull and multiple broken ribs.

The State charged Wadle with multiple offenses:

Count I Level-3 felony aggravated battery;
Count II Leaving the scene of an accident, elevated from a Class B misdemeanor to a Level 3 felony for his offense of OWI causing serious bodily injury (OWI-SBI );
Count III OWI-SBI, elevated from a Level 6 to a Level 5 felony due to a previous OWI conviction;
Count IV OWI endangering a person, elevated from a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony due to a previous OWI conviction; and
Count V OWI with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, elevated from a Class C misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony due to a previous OWI conviction.

See I.C. § 35-42-2-1.5 (aggravated battery) (2014 Repl.); I.C. § 9-26-1-1.1(a), (b) (Supp. 2015) (leaving the scene); I.C. § 9-30-5-4(a) (OWI-SBI); I.C. § 9-30-5-2(a), (b) (2010 Repl.) (OWI endangering another); I.C. § 9-30-5-1(a) (OWI with an blood-alcohol concentration of at least 0.08); I.C. § 9-30-5-3(a) (Supp. 2015) (elevating the OWI misdemeanor offenses to Level 6 felonies based on a previous OWI conviction).

The jury acquitted Wadle of Count I but found him guilty of the remaining charges. The trial court entered judgment of conviction and sentenced Wadle to an aggregate term of sixteen years executed with two years suspended to probation.2

In a unanimous opinion, our Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that, under the Richardson "actual evidence" test, Wadle's convictions under Counts II and III violated the Indiana Double Jeopardy Clause. Wadle v. State , 120 N.E.3d 253, 256–58 (Ind. Ct. App. 2019) (citing Richardson v. State , 717 N.E.2d 32 (Ind. 1999) ). The panel recognized several cases in conflict with its holding. Id. at 258 n.4. But, while seeking clarification from this Court, the panel declined to address this tension in constitutional precedent on grounds that Wadle's convictions also violated the common-law rules against double jeopardy. Id. Under these rules, the panel held, the same harm caused by Wadle (striking Woodward with his car while driving drunk) impermissibly supported both the elevation of his conviction under Count II and his conviction under Count III. Id. at 259. The panel applied the same reasoning to Wadle's two other OWI convictions, both based on the same act of drunk driving. Id. To remedy these violations, the panel remanded with instructions for the trial court to vacate Wadle's convictions under Counts III, IV, and V while leaving in place his conviction and sentence under Count II. Id. at 261–62.

The State petitioned for transfer, which we granted, vacating the Court of Appeals decision. See Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).

Standard of Review

This case presents several questions of law, both statutory and constitutional, which we review de novo. A.M. v. State , 134 N.E.3d 361, 364 (Ind. 2019).

Discussion and Decision

Wadle argues that the jury used the evidence supporting the elevation of his leaving-the-scene offense to also prove the elements of his OWI-SBI offense, a violation of the Indiana Double Jeopardy Clause under the Richardson "actual evidence" test. The State counters that Wadle's convictions simply reflect punishment for two separate and sequential harms: OWI-SBI followed by leaving the scene of an accident. Urging deference to "the express directive of the legislature," the State contends that Wadle's convictions must stand because they represent "two independent criminally culpable decisions," resulting in two different crimes. Pet. to Trans. at 8, 11; Reply in Support of Trans. at 4.

The dispute here forces us to confront long-standing tensions in our double-jeopardy jurisprudence, an area of the law plagued by multiple contextual applications, competing policy concerns, and shifting doctrinal formulations. These variables, a perennial source of confusion for the bench and bar, set the stage for our analysis in Part I of this opinion. We follow this discussion with a summary of Richardson and an in-depth survey of its progeny, ultimately leading to our departure from that precedent. See infra Section I.A.2. We then reassess the protective scope of our Double Jeopardy Clause, concluding that it operates only as a procedural bar to successive prosecutions for the same offense. See infra Section I.B.1. From there, and after clarifying the basic statutory and common-law protections against multiple punishments in a single trial, we proceed to articulate an analytical framework in which to resolve claims of substantive double jeopardy under Indiana law. See infra Sections I.B.2–3. We conclude Part I by discussing other constitutional protections on which defendants may rely to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
123 cases
  • Wright v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • May 4, 2021
    ... ... 7 See Wadle v. State , 151 N.E.3d 227, 238 (Ind. 2020) (discussing this evolution in the law). Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court has since recognized an indigent criminal defendant's constitutional right to the assistance of counsel. Gideon , 372 U.S. at 34445, 83 S.Ct. 792. 8 Today, then, "an individual's ... ...
  • Powell v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • August 18, 2020
    ... ... Substantive double-jeopardy claims principally arise in one of two situations: (1) when a single criminal act or transaction violates multiple statutes with common elements, or (2) when a single criminal act or transaction violates a single statute and results in multiple injuries. Wadle v. State , 151 N.E.3d 227, 247-48 (Ind. 2020). Our decision today in Wadle implicates the former scenario; this case implicates the latter. The question here is not whether one offense is included in the other (attempted murder is clearly the same as attempted murder). See Hurst v. State , ... ...
  • Larkin v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • September 14, 2021
    ... ... This distinction is important. As this Court recently noted, "a lesser-included offense implicates a defendant's due process right to fair notice: unless the defendant himself requests an instruction on the offense (thereby waiving the notice requirement)[.]" Wadle v. State , 151 N.E.3d 227, 251 (Ind. 2020). The State had over six years within which it could have amended the charging information to include an involuntary manslaughter charge against Larkin or mention some form of battery, but it did not do so. Then during trial and just minutes before final ... ...
  • Mendoza v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • February 16, 2021
    ... ... [14] Mendoza first contends that his convictions and sentences on Counts II and III violate the constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy. This presents a question of law that we review de novo. Wadle v. State , 151 N.E.3d 227, 237 (Ind. 2020). [15] The prohibition against double jeopardyembedded in both the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 14 of the Indiana Constitution shields a criminal defendant from being twice convicted for the same offense in a ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT