Evidence doesn’t show existence of family housing complex at time of crime


Jennifer Nelson for www.theindianalawyer.com

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a man’s Class A felony conviction for dealing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a family housing complex because the state didn’t prove the complex qualified as family housing under the law at the time of the offense.

Rodney A. Richard was charged with several offenses after selling cocaine to a confidential informant two times, including Class A felonies dealing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park and within 1,000 feet of a family housing complex. He was convicted as charged and sentenced to a total of 52 years, with six years of his sentence suspended to probation.

He appealed in Rodney A. Richard v. State of Indiana, 46A05-1312-CR-628, claiming the state didn’t prove he sold cocaine within 1,000 feet of the park or housing complex.

The state presented sufficient evidence from a Michigan City Sanitary District employee that the park was owned by a political subdivision, as is required by statute, at the time the offense was committed.

But the evidence provided by the state regarding Garden Estates Housing Complex proved that it qualifies as a family housing complex under the statute at the time of Richard’s trial, but did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that was true at the time Richard committed the offense. The fact that a family housing complex existed at the time of the offense is an essential element of the charge, Judge Margret Robb noted.

The judges reversed the Class A felony dealing within 1,000 feet of a family housing complex conviction and ordered the court enter the conviction instead as a Class B felony and resentence him accordingly.