TN Supreme Court Clarifies Mandatory Joinder Rule in Robbery and False Report Case out of Memphis

TN Supreme Court Clarifies Mandatory Joinder Rule in Robbery and False Report Case out of Memphis

In this opinion, the Supreme Court TN analyzes the mandatory joinder provisions in Tenn. R. Crim.P. 8(a)(1)(A). 


Cedrick Johnson knew better than to call the police to his home and report that his car had been stolen from his girlfriend's house. But when your mother tells you report a crime, you call 911. The problem is that after police arrived and questioned Cedrick, he capitulated and said that really his car had not been stolen after all but that he had loaned it to a friend who never returned the car. Unfortunately for Cedrick, the auto and Cedrick seemed to fit the description for a recent robbery.  The victim of the robbery picked Cedrick out of a photo line-up as the culprit.  At issue here are the separate prosecutions for filing a false report (the car) and a separate prosecution for robbery.  Both the trial court and the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the mandatory joinder provisions of Rule 8 required a single prosecution. The TN Supreme Court overturned those rulings.
We have determined that the majority of the Court of Criminal Appeals erred by finding that Mr. Johnson’s initiating a false police report offense and aggravated robbery offense were part of the same criminal episode....
We have determined that the two charges against Mr. Johnson were not part of the same criminal episode because, based on the facts of this case, they did not occur simultaneously or in close sequence and did not occur in the same place or in closely situated places. Mr. Johnson initiated the false police report twelve hours after he had allegedly robbed Mr. Watkins. The record does not directly address what transpired between the alleged robbery and the initiation of the false police report. Accordingly, there is no basis for concluding whether a break in the action interrupted the temporal proximity of the two offenses. Likewise, the record fails to demonstrate that the two offenses occurred in the same place or in closely situated places.
The Supreme Court examines the history of Rule 8 and  the ABA influences and other state's analysis of the principles behind the development of Rule.

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