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Change in state statute gets public intoxication conviction overturned

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Although the evidence showed the man was intoxicated in public, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned his conviction because he was not a threat to public safety.

 The Court of Appeals pointed to Indiana Code 7.1-5-1-3(a) which was amended to define the elements of a Class B misdemeanor public intoxication. Namely, the drunken individual must be either endangering his or her own life or the life of another person; or breaching or about to breach the peace; or harassing, annoying or alarming another person.

In Danny Stephens v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1301-CR-18, the COA reversed the trial court, finding the evidence was insufficient to support Stephens’ conviction for public intoxication since he was not a posing a danger, nor was he being loud or harassing others.  

 “Notably, the General Assembly added these elements to the public intoxication statute in 2012, making it no longer a crime simply to be intoxicated in public,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “The addition of these elements promotes public policy encouraging inebriated persons to avoid creating dangerous situations by walking, catching a cab, or riding home with a designated driver rather than driving while intoxicated. Because the amendment became effective July 2012, we have little precedent concerning the new language.”

Stephens was arrested for public intoxication after he called Indianapolis Metropolitan Police and asked them to take him to jail. He did not want to return to his home for fear his niece’s boyfriend would harm him.

The Court of Appeals found that Stephens was asking for help when he walked to a public place, called police and told them he was drunk. While he was drunk in a public parking lot, he did not violate the statute by breaching the peace.



 

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  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.

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