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Whatley v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana
928 N.E.2d 202 (2010)


Facts

When police arrested Walker Whatley (defendant) at his home, a search incident to the arrest revealed that Whatley was in possession of 3.2459 grams of cocaine. The offense for which Whatley was arrested was unrelated to the cocaine. The cocaine was located in a bag inside Whatley’s pocket. Whatley’s home was approximately 795 feet from Robinson Community Church (RCC), an organization that offered a number of services and programs targeted at the community’s youth. Whatley was convicted of possession of cocaine, which was a class A felony, and received a 35-year sentence. Although possession of more than three grams of cocaine was typically a class C offense, Indiana law increased the severity of the offense to a class A offense if the possession occurred within 1,000 feet of a youth program center. Whatley appealed his conviction to the court of appeals on the ground that RCC was not a youth program center. The court of appeals agreed with Whatley, finding that offering programs for youth did not change RCC’s status as a church, and therefore remanded Whatley’s case with instructions to enter the conviction as a class C felony. The state appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sullivan, J.)

Dissent (Boehm, J.)

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