ILNews

COA finds portion of public intoxication statute unconstitutionally vague

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that the portion of the public intoxication statute enacted in 2012 that uses the term “annoys” is void for vagueness. As such, it reversed a man’s conviction for public intoxication that was based on annoying behavior.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer Brycen Garner arrested Rodregus Morgan after believing him to be intoxicated. Garner found Morgan’s brother yelling at Morgan at a bus stop after Morgan would not wake up. Garner woke Morgan up to have him leave the shelter and saw his eyes were blood shot and glassy, and he was unsteady.

While Garner completed paperwork, Morgan yelled and continued to be agitated. The state charged him with Class D felony intimidation and Class B misdemeanors public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

The officer identified Morgan’s behavior as “annoying” when he placed him under arrest.

Morgan was convicted of the misdemeanor charges.

On appeal in Rodregus Morgan v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1304-CR-386, he argued that I.C. 7.1-5-1-3, which states that it is a Class B misdemeanor if an individual is intoxicated while in a public place and harasses, annoys or alarms another person, is unconstitutionally vague. The statute doesn’t define “annoys” and there is no objective standard for evaluating what “annoys” constitutes, Morgan claimed.

“ … we find the challenged portion of Indiana’s public intoxication statute to be unconstitutionally vague. Namely, the statute neither requires that a defendant have specifically intended to annoy another, nor does it employ an objective standard to assess whether a defendant’s conduct would be annoying to a reasonable person,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Furthermore, the statute does not mandate that the defendant have been first warned that his behavior was considered annoying conduct. Instead, this section of the statute enables arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement because the illegality of any conduct — no matter how trivial or how substantial — is based solely on the subjective feelings of a particular person at any given time.”

The judges emphasized they are only holding the term “annoying” void for vagueness and removing that from the section does not inhibit the statute’s execution, so the remainder of the section stands.

They also affirmed his conviction for disorderly conduct based on sufficient evidence.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

ADVERTISEMENT