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Conner v. Indiana

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant sold fake marijuana to a police informant for a total of $1,600. Defendant was charged and convicted with the distribution of a non-controlled substance represented to be a controlled substance, holding a prison term of six years.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A penalty must be proportionate to the nature of the offense.

    Facts.

    Police informant, Mark Evers, arranged to purchase $1,600 worth of marijuana from Conner, Defendant. As the transaction was taking place, Conner had sixteen small plastic bags containing a plant material. Evers gave him the $1,600 in exchange for the bags with the plant material. The police department chemist indicated that the plant substance, totaling 145.4 grams, did not contain traces of marijuana.

    Issue.

    Whether the application § 35-48-4-4.6 violated Defendant’s constitutional requirement that all penalties be proportionate the offense.

    Held.

    Yes, the application § 35-48-4-4.6 violated Defendant’s constitutional requirement that all penalties be proportionate the offense.

    Discussion.

    Under Indiana law, the distribution of more than thirty grams of marijuana is a class D felony, holding a maximum prison term of three years. However, the distribution of a non-controlled substance represented to be a controlled substance, which has prison term sentence of eight years. The court found that because the six year prison term Defendant received is twice the penalty Defendant would have receive had he sold real marijuana to the police informant, the penalty is not proportionate to the nature of the offense.



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