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. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.