ILNews

Court: No public intox in private driveway

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a defendant's convictions of public intoxication and carrying a handgun without a license because there wasn't enough evidence to prove either charge.

In Cahisa Jones v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0708-CR-658, police responded to a call about suspicious activity at a location in Indianapolis. When the officers arrived, they saw a car parked in a private driveway behind a vacant house. Inside, Jones was lying in the front passenger seat with empty whiskey bottles and beer cans around her. In the backseat, there was a handgun on top of a pile of clothes. The car belonged to Jones' cousin, who had driven it earlier that day.

Jones was convicted of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication and Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license. On appeal, Jones claimed there wasn't enough evidence to convict her on either charge.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Jones and reversed both of her convictions. Judge Michael Barnes wrote that caselaw has held that intoxicated people in private cars may be charged with public intoxication when the person is a passenger in a car stopped by police on a public road, seen on a public road before pulling into a parking lot, or inside a car pulled over on the shoulder of a highway.

The appellate court has refused to uphold a conviction of public intoxication for defendants in a private car in a private driveway, because it's impossible to determine whether the person drove on a public street in order to get to the driveway. Since Jones was on a private driveway, there is insufficient evidence to uphold her public intoxication conviction, he wrote.

The Court of Appeals also cited insufficient evidence as the reason to overturn Jones' conviction of carrying a handgun without a license. The issue is whether Jones constructively possessed it, but there isn't enough evidence to show that is the case. Jones was unaware of the gun, denied it was her gun, and made no incriminating statements, therefore, her conviction should be overturned, Judge Barnes wrote.

In a footnote, Judge Barnes discussed Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-1-3, which defines a person must "be in a public place or a place of public resort in a state of intoxication..." to be charged. He wrote instead of criminalizing people who choose to be passengers in a private vehicle instead of driving, it would be better public policy to encourage people who are intoxicated to ride in a private vehicle without fear of being prosecuted for a crime.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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