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Woman who invited abusive spouse did not violate no-contact protective order

December 14, 2012

In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the Indiana General Assembly was deliberate when it did not criminalize the violation of a protective order by the protected person.

The COA, in Melissa Patterson v. State of Indiana, 34A02-1203-CR-235, reversed and remanded the trial court’s denial of a motion to dismiss two counts of aiding, inducing, or causing invasion of privacy as a Class A misdemeanor.  

Melissa Patterson obtained a no-contact order against her finance, Gregory Darden, following an incident of domestic battery. Twice afterward, Patterson was found with Darden and was arrested for violating the no-contact order.

She argued the trial court erred in denying her motion to dismiss the charges of aiding, inducing, or causing the invasion of privacy because the Legislature did not intend for I.C. 35-46-1-15.1 to criminalize the conduct of a protected person under the no-contract order in question.

The COA agreed, holding Indiana’s statute does not criminalize a protected person’s actions that invite or acquiesce in the violation of the no-contact order by the subject.

“The bottom line is that our General Assembly has made it abundantly clear that it recognized the possibility that orders intended to protect persons from domestic violence are issued in settings in which the protected person might invite the subject of the order to enter the forbidden zone and thus violate the order,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote. “Its failure to criminalize activity that, in two separate instances, it recognized might invite a violation of the order, must be viewed not as an omission, but as a determination that such should not be criminalized.”

Judge Rudolph Pyle III dissented, contending the plain language of the statute permits the prosecution of a protected person who deliberately helps another disobey a court order for protection.

“While the majority’s policy position may, in fact, be consonant with the General Assembly’s intent, I believe it should be left for the legislative branch to explicitly exclude the prosecution of protected persons,” he wrote.

 

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