A defendant was charged under state law with felony theft (Class D) and felony residential burglary (Class C). The indictment alleged that the defendant entered his neighbors’ home without their consent and stole a diamond ring worth at least $2,500.
Defense counsel filed a pretrial motion to dismiss the charges on the ground that prosecuting the defendant for both burglary and theft would constitute double jeopardy. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant was prosecuted for both crimes. The only evidence of the ring’s value offered at the defendant’s jury trial was the owner’s testimony that she had purchased the ring two years earlier for $3,000.
At trial, the judge issued the following jury instruction on the burglary charge prior to deliberations:
If, after consideration of all the evidence presented by the prosecution and defense, you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant entered the dwelling without the owners’ consent, you may presume that the defendant entered with the intent to commit a felony therein.
The jury found the defendant guilty of both offenses.
At the defendant’s sentencing hearing, an expert witness called by the prosecutor testified that the diamond ring was worth between $7,000 and $8,000. Over defense objection, the judge concluded, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the value of the stolen ring exceeded $5,000. The judge sentenced the defendant to four years’ incarceration on the theft conviction. On the burglary conviction, the defendant received a consecutive sentence of seven years’ incarceration.
In this state, residential burglary is defined as “entry into the dwelling of another, without the consent of the lawful resident, with the intent to commit a felony therein.” Residential burglary is a Class C felony for which the minimum sentence is five years and the maximum sentence is ten years of incarceration.
In this state, theft is defined as “taking and carrying away the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession.” Theft is a Class D felony if the value of the item(s) taken is between $2,500 and $10,000. The sentence for a Class D felony theft is determined by the value of the items taken. If the value is between $2,500 and $5,000, the maximum sentence is three years’ incarceration. If the value of the items exceeds $5,000, the maximum sentence is five years’ incarceration.
This state affords a criminal defendant no greater rights than those mandated by the United States Constitution.
1. Did the trial court err when it denied the defendant’s pretrial motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds? Explain.
2. Did the trial court err in its instruction to the jury on the burglary charge? Explain.
3. Did the trial court err when it sentenced the defendant to an additional year of incarceration on the theft conviction based on the expert’s testimony? Explain.