from the Allen Superior Court 6, No. 02D06-1604-F4-30 The
Honorable John F. Surbeck, Jr., Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT P. Stephen Miller Fort Wayne, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Ellen H. Meilaender Laura R. Anderson Andrew A.
Kobe Deputy Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana
habitual-offender statutes count all prior
non-Indiana felonies as Level 6 felonies and do not allow a
habitual-offender finding based only on two Level 6 felonies.
Relying on these statutes, Calvin argues that his two prior
Illinois felonies are insufficient to support his
habitual-offender enhancement. The State responds that this
result is absurd, so we should graft new language onto the
reject the State's invitation. The habitual-offender
statutes' plain meaning, though curious, has prevailed in
Indiana for nearly thirty years. Judicially rewriting it now
would violate separation-of-powers principles and our strict
construction of criminal statutes. We thus reverse
Calvin's habitual-offender enhancement for insufficient
evidence and remand to the trial court.
and Procedural History
Calvin broke into a Fort Wayne home and stole a PlayStation
4, a sixty-inch plasma television, and a pair of gym shoes.
Thanks to a vigilant neighborhood watch, he was promptly
caught and arrested.
State charged Calvin with Level 4 felony burglary and alleged
that he was a habitual offender based on two prior
convictions. Both of those convictions were Class 1 felony
residential burglary convictions from Illinois-one from 1992
and the other from 1998. A jury convicted Calvin on the new
burglary charge and found that he was a habitual offender.
The trial court sentenced him to six years for the burglary,
and ten additional years for the habitual-offender
challenged the enhancement on appeal, arguing that his two
Illinois felonies could not make him a habitual offender
since Indiana's habitual-offender statutes treat all
non-Indiana felonies as Level 6 felonies, and two Level 6
felonies cannot support the enhancement. The State responded
that this reading leads to absurd results by treating
defendants differently based on where they committed their
Court of Appeals affirmed Calvin's habitual-offender
enhancement. First, it agreed with the State that the
absurdity doctrine applied. Calvin v. State, 80
N.E.3d 226, 228-29 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017). Then, the court
compared Calvin's Illinois burglaries to burglary in
Indiana and concluded that his out-of-state convictions
should be treated as Level 4 felonies. Id. at 229.
granted Calvin's petition to transfer, vacating the Court
of Appeals opinion. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).
first address the meaning of Indiana's habitual-offender
statutes. This is an issue of statutory interpretation, so
our review is de novo. Day v. State, 57 N.E.3d 809,
811 (Ind. 2016).
determine whether, under that interpretation, sufficient
evidence supports Calvin's habitual-offender enhancement.
See id.; Pierce v. State, 29 N.E.3d 1258,
1264-65 (Ind. 2015).
the plain meaning of Indiana's habitual-offender
statutes, prior non-Indiana felonies count as Level 6
felonies. The State argues that this leads to absurd results,
but we decline to cast aside the plain meaning through the
Indiana's Habitual-Offender Statutes Treat Non-Indiana
Felonies as Level 6 Felonies.
habitual-offender finding is not a separate crime, but an
enhancement that attaches to an underlying felony. Ind. Code
§ 35-50-2-8(j) (2017). Here, Calvin's Level 4 felony