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Man still drunk despite change in public intoxication statute, COA rules

August 14, 2013

A 2012 change in Indiana’s public intoxication statute adding a required charging element of at least harassing, annoying or alarming another person doesn’t negate a conviction for a man who the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled did at least that much.

In Christopher Naas v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1301-CR-4, the defendant argued that his Class B misdemeanor public intoxication conviction in Marion Superior Court should be tossed because there was insufficient evidence to show he was intoxicated and breached the peace and/or annoyed or alarmed another person.

Naas was among a trio of men who drove to a westside Indianapolis gas station on Sept. 20, 2012, after being involved in a traffic incident with a man and woman in another car. Police were dispatched to the station where an officer witnessed Naas “yelling and walking aggressively toward the male and female as they backed away from him and tried to ‘de-escalate the situation.’”

The officer said Naas met the traditional elements of the P.I.charge: he smelled of alcohol, was unsteady, and had slurred speech and red, watery eyes. There also was a half-empty whiskey bottle on the floorboard of his car.

“We agree that the evidence of the parties backing away is sufficient to infer that Naas alarmed them when he yelled and walked in an aggressive manner toward them,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in a unanimous, six-page ruling. “Accordingly, we conclude that the evidence of intoxication and alarming others constitutes substantial evidence of probative value to support Naas’s conviction of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication.”
 

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