ILNews

COA finds portion of public intoxication statute unconstitutionally vague

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that the portion of the public intoxication statute enacted in 2012 that uses the term “annoys” is void for vagueness. As such, it reversed a man’s conviction for public intoxication that was based on annoying behavior.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer Brycen Garner arrested Rodregus Morgan after believing him to be intoxicated. Garner found Morgan’s brother yelling at Morgan at a bus stop after Morgan would not wake up. Garner woke Morgan up to have him leave the shelter and saw his eyes were blood shot and glassy, and he was unsteady.

While Garner completed paperwork, Morgan yelled and continued to be agitated. The state charged him with Class D felony intimidation and Class B misdemeanors public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

The officer identified Morgan’s behavior as “annoying” when he placed him under arrest.

Morgan was convicted of the misdemeanor charges.

On appeal in Rodregus Morgan v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1304-CR-386, he argued that I.C. 7.1-5-1-3, which states that it is a Class B misdemeanor if an individual is intoxicated while in a public place and harasses, annoys or alarms another person, is unconstitutionally vague. The statute doesn’t define “annoys” and there is no objective standard for evaluating what “annoys” constitutes, Morgan claimed.

“ … we find the challenged portion of Indiana’s public intoxication statute to be unconstitutionally vague. Namely, the statute neither requires that a defendant have specifically intended to annoy another, nor does it employ an objective standard to assess whether a defendant’s conduct would be annoying to a reasonable person,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Furthermore, the statute does not mandate that the defendant have been first warned that his behavior was considered annoying conduct. Instead, this section of the statute enables arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement because the illegality of any conduct — no matter how trivial or how substantial — is based solely on the subjective feelings of a particular person at any given time.”

The judges emphasized they are only holding the term “annoying” void for vagueness and removing that from the section does not inhibit the statute’s execution, so the remainder of the section stands.

They also affirmed his conviction for disorderly conduct based on sufficient evidence.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT