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Change to public intoxication statute not retroactive

February 22, 2013

A woman convicted of public intoxication may not receive relief from a change in the statute that took effect a day before her bench trial.

Clematine Hollingsworth was charged with misdemeanors public intoxication and disorderly conduct on May 12, 2012, after Indianapolis police responded to a complaint of women fighting at an apartment complex. She was convicted of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication at a July 2 bench trial.

On July 1, an amendment to the public intoxication statute, I.C. 7.1-5-1-3, took effect. The new law narrowed the definition of P.I. to include actions that endanger the person’s life or that of other people; breaches the peace or is an imminent danger to breach the peace; or harasses, annoys or alarms another person.

In Clematine Hollingsworth v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1207-CR-617, Hollingsworth argued that the statutory change was remedial and that not applying it in her case was fundamental error. The state argued the issue was never raised at her trial and the argument was therefore waived. The appeals court agreed.

“Hollingsworth had the opportunity to raise the issue of retroactivity before the trial court and failed to do so. The purpose of the contemporaneous objection rule is ‘to promote a fair trial by precluding a party from sitting idly by and appearing to assent to an offer of evidence or ruling by the court only to cry foul when the outcome goes against him,’” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote for the court. “We decline to abandon the contemporaneous objection rule here.”

 

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