A special jury instruction is not required when a defendant is charged with kidnapping and robbery of separate victims, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held.
The Tennessee Supreme Court had previously held that in order to protect a defendant’s right to due process under the Tennessee Constitution, a special jury instruction is required in certain cases involving both kidnapping and a more serious criminal offense, such as robbery, burglary or rape. The basis for this special jury instruction – which is known as a “White” instruction in light of the eponymous Tennessee Supreme Court case State v. White – traces back to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s earlier decision in the 1991 case State v. Anthony. In Anthony, the Tennessee Supreme Court recognized that “the offense of kidnapping. . . at times ‘could literally overrun several other crimes, notably robbery and rape, and in some circumstances assault, since detention and sometimes confinement, against the will of the victim, frequently accompany these crimes.’”
Stated differently, because “[i]t is a common occurrence in robbery, for example, that the victim be confined briefly at gunpoint or bound and detained,” the Anthony court expressed concern that a defendant could be convicted for two separate crimes –kidnapping as well as a more serious crime – when the defendant had only truly committed the more serious crime. In other words: “Where a defendant is charged with kidnapping and an accompanying offense involving some confinement . . . , there are appropriate due process concerns that the defendant could be convicted of two crimes—e.g. robbery and kidnapping—when he has only committed one crime—robbery.” More simply, as one Court of Criminal Appeals Judge once explained the issue: “I do not believe the legislature intended robbers to be prosecuted as kidnappers.” Continue reading Tennessee Supreme Court holds that a special jury instruction is not required when a defendant is charged with kidnapping and robbery of separate victims.