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Date: 11-23-2020

Case Style:

Delangley Woods v. State of Indiana

Case Number: 20A-MI-1149

Judge: Edward W. Najam, Jr.

Court: COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA

Plaintiff's Attorney: Curtis T. Hill, Jr.
Attorney General of Indiana
J.T. Whitehead
Deputy Attorney General

Defendant's Attorney:


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Description:

Indianapolis, IN - Criminal defense lawyer represented defendant Delangley Woods with appealing the trial court’s order awarding $12,064 to the State on its complaint for civil forfeiture following a bench trial..



On May 18, 2018, Woods, whose vehicle had been repossessed, went to Last
Chance Wrecker Service (“towing company”) in Indianapolis to retrieve
personal belongings from inside the vehicle. Before Woods arrived, a towing
company employee had searched the vehicle and found a gun, which was
placed in a safe for safekeeping. The employee had then contacted the
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”) to report the gun.
Accordingly, when Woods arrived to get his belongings, he met with three
IMPD officers, including Officer Dale Young and his K-9 unit, Maggie.
[4] Officer Young asked Woods what items he was looking to get from the vehicle,
and Woods told him that he wanted “a green bag” and a gun. Tr. at 9. Maggie
had alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle, and Woods gave both his
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 20A-MI-1149 | November 23, 2020 Page 3 of 6
oral and written consent to the officers to search the vehicle. The officers found
one green bag in the vehicle, and inside that bag officers found a letter
addressed to Woods, a scale, a green leafy substance, a white powdery
substance, and $12,064 in cash. Woods denied that the items inside the bag
were his. Officers found additional cash on Woods’ person and elsewhere in
the vehicle totaling $2,067.
[5] The State charged Woods with dealing in cocaine, as a Level 2 felony;
possession of cocaine, as a Level 3 felony; dealing in marijuana, as a Level 6
felony; and possession of marijuana, as a Level 6 felony. Woods pleaded guilty
to the two dealing counts, as charged, and the State dismissed the other two
counts. The State also filed a complaint seeking forfeiture of the $14,131 in
cash found in the vehicle and on Woods’ person. Following a bench trial, the
court found that “the $12,064.00 in U.S. Currency located in the green bag was
proceeds of a violation of a criminal statute,” but that the remaining $2,067
“was not proceeds of a violation of a criminal statute” and was to be returned to
Woods. Appellant’s App. Vol. 2 at 7. This appeal ensued.
Discussion and Decision
Issue One: Admission of Evidence
[6] Woods first contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted
into evidence State’s Exhibit 1, which is an abstract of judgment showing his
convictions for dealing in cocaine and dealing in marijuana, which offenses
occurred on May 18, 2018, the day the officers found Woods’ green bag in his
vehicle. Generally, a trial court’s ruling on the admission of evidence is
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 20A-MI-1149 | November 23, 2020 Page 4 of 6
accorded “a great deal of deference” on appeal. Tynes v. State, 650 N.E.2d 685,
687 (Ind. 1995). “Because the trial court is best able to weigh the evidence and
assess witness credibility, we review its rulings on admissibility for abuse of
discretion” and only reverse “if a ruling is ‘clearly against the logic and effect of
the facts and circumstances and the error affects a party’s substantial rights.’”
Carpenter v. State, 18 N.E.3d 998, 1001 (Ind. 2014) (quoting Clark v. State, 994
N.E.2d 252, 260 (Ind. 2013)).
[7] We do not reach the merits of Woods’ argument on this issue for two reasons.
Woods first contends, as he did to the trial court, that Exhibit 1 was
inadmissible because the State did not establish its relevance. However, on
appeal, Woods does not support that bare assertion with citation either to the
record or to relevant authority, and he does not otherwise present cogent
argument. Accordingly, this argument is waived. See Ind. Appellate Rule
46(A)(8)(a). Woods also contends that Exhibit 1 was inadmissible because the
State failed to authenticate it. However, Woods did not make a
contemporaneous objection to Exhibit 1 on that ground. It is well settled that a
defendant may not present one ground for an objection at trial and assert a
different one on appeal. Lashbrook v. State, 762 N.E.2d 756, 759 (Ind. 2002).
Woods has failed to preserve this issue for our review.
Issue Two: Sufficiency of the Evidence
[8] Woods next contends that the State presented insufficient evidence to show that
the $12,064 in cash officers found in the green bag in his vehicle was the
proceeds of a violation of a criminal statute. In reviewing the sufficiency of the
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 20A-MI-1149 | November 23, 2020 Page 5 of 6
evidence in a civil case, such as this, we consider only the evidence most
favorable to the judgment and any reasonable inferences that may be drawn
therefrom. Gonzalez v. State, 74 N.E.3d 1228, 1230 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017). We
neither reweigh the evidence nor assess the credibility of the witnesses. Id.
When there is substantial evidence of probative value to support the trial court’s
ruling, it will not be disturbed. Id. We will reverse only when we are left with a
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made. Id.
[9] Indiana Code Section 34-24-1-1(a)(2) provides in relevant part that the State
may seize money “traceable as proceeds” of drug dealing. The State’s burden
of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. Ind. Code § 34-24-1-4(a). The
State need only prove that “the property sought in forfeiture was used to
commit one of the enumerated offenses under the statute. This nexus . . . best
articulates the statute’s requirement of proof by a preponderance that the
property is subject to forfeiture.” Serrano v. State, 946 N.E.2d 1139, 1143 (Ind.
2011).
[10] Woods acknowledges that, under Indiana Code Section 34-24-1-1(d), money
that is found “near or on a person who is committing, attempting to commit, or
conspiring to commit” drug dealing is presumed to be the proceeds of the
violation of a criminal statute. However, Woods asserts that the State was not
entitled to that presumption here because it did not prove that the substances
found in the vehicle were marijuana and cocaine. And Woods maintains that,
absent the presumption, the State did not prove any connection between the
forfeited cash and drug dealing. We cannot agree.
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 20A-MI-1149 | November 23, 2020 Page 6 of 6
[11] The State presented evidence that on May 18, 2018, Woods gave his oral and
written consent to officers to search his repossessed vehicle. Woods had told
the officers that he wanted to retrieve his green bag from the vehicle. Officers
found only one green bag in the vehicle, and that bag contained a green leafy
substance, a white powdery substance, a scale, and $12,064 in cash. Officer
Young’s K-9 unit alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle. The State also
presented evidence that Woods pleaded guilty to and was convicted of both
dealing in cocaine and dealing in marijuana, which offenses occurred on the
same day, May 18, 2018. State’s Ex. 1.
[12] We reject Woods’ assertion that the State did not present sufficient evidence to
show a nexus between his dealing convictions and the cash to establish the
statutory presumption. Woods asks that we reweigh the evidence, which we
cannot do. We hold that the State was entitled to the statutory presumption
that the $12,064 was the proceeds of Woods’ drug dealing. I.C. § 34-24-1-1(d).
Woods did not present any evidence to rebut the presumption.

Outcome: Accordingly, the trial court did not err when it awarded the cash to the State on its forfeiture complaint.

Affirmed.

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