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Public intoxication conviction tossed for lack of proof of endangerment

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A man convicted of public intoxication after a police officer found him near the site where his car had come to a stop between the road and a drainage ditch was improperly convicted, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Monday.

David Sesay was convicted of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication in Marion Superior Court, but an appeals panel reversed, concluding that the state “failed to prove Sesay engaged in any conduct beyond intoxication that endangered his life.”

A little more than a year ago, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer arrested Sesay after being dispatched to the southwest side of the city. The officer found Sesay shortly after 3 a.m. standing near the vehicle a few feet out of the roadway, covered in mud with alcohol on his breath and red or glassy bloodshot eyes. Sesay said his girlfriend had been driving the car, and she arrived on the scene a few minutes later.

But Sesay said the state failed to meet its burden that he endangered himself as is required under I.C. 7.1-5-1-3(a). The P.I. statute requires that a person endanger his or another person’s life; breaches the peace or is in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or harasses, annoys or alarms another person.

Sesay was convicted after a bench trial before Judge Linda Brown in which the officer was the sole witness.  Brown noted Sesay was staggering near a road, had vomited on himself and needed the officer’s assistance to be seated. “And so I think it can be inferred that he was endangering his life,” Brown said.

“Although there is no question that Sesay was in a public place and that he was intoxicated, the State failed to prove that he engaged in any additional conduct that endangered his life,” Judge Margret Rob wrote for the majority  joined by Judge Patricia Riley in David Sesay v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1305-CR-434. “Sesay’s conviction is, therefore, reversed.”

Judge Cale Bradford concurred with a separate opinion. He would reverse, but he wrote “to clarify that while I believe that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to show that Sesay was endangered at the time of his arrest, I believe that Indiana Code section 7.1-5-1-3 requires a showing that the endangerment resulted from an affirmative act by Sesay and, in the instant matter, the evidence presented below was insufficient to make such a showing.”

 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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