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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 6 NFP), including interesting opinion by Sr. Judge Shepard

For publication opinions today (1):

In Byron Chan v. State of Indiana, a 4-page opinion, Sr. Judge Shepard wrties:

When a shoplifter steals goods priced at $97, does the $7 in sales tax that would have been due if he had purchased the items mean that their “retail value” was $104 such that the forfeiture statutes entitle the State to seize the car the thief used to drive to the scene of the crime? * * *

Both Chan and the State have advanced entirely respectable interpretations of the forfeiture statute. One says “retail value” is the price of the goods without tax, and the other says most people think of value as how much they had to pay when they purchased the goods.

In the presence of two competing reasonable interpretations, courts construe forfeiture statutes much in the same way they construe statutes creating crimes. Hornbook law says that criminal statutes are construed according to a rule of lenity that serves to protect against creating a crime by mere construction. 8 Indiana Law Encyclopedia Criminal Law § 7 (2004). Likewise, forfeitures are not favored in the law, and statutes authorizing forfeitures are strictly construed. 36 Am. Jur. 2d Forfeitures and Penalties § 8 (2011); see also Gomez v. Vill. of Pinecrest, 17 So. 3d 322 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2009), approved, 41 So. 3d 180 (Fla. 2010); People v. Borash, 354 Ill. App. 3d 70, 820 N.E.2d 74 (Ill. App. Ct. 2004), appeal denied.

Of course, application of this canon leads to the conclusion that “retail or repurchase value” should be read as meaning the price of the goods without the addition of the sales tax due on the transaction.

We thus reverse the trial court.

NFP civil opinions today (1):

Glenda A. Wilson v. Roland B. Wilson, Jr. (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (5):

Walker Whatley v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Fernando Padilla-Romo v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Herbert E. Robertson, III v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Sidney D. Bennett v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Jeffery Roshell v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 21, 2012 11:04 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions