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COA reverses assisting criminal conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a woman's conviction of misdemeanor assisting a criminal Jan. 2 because the state failed to define "fugitive from justice" and prove the criminal was charged with an offense in another state and fled to Indiana.

In Darcy Lafferty v. State of Indiana, No. 65A01-0806-CR-314, the state charged Darcy Lafferty with assisting a criminal under Indiana Code Section 35-44-3-2 after she was seen with John Murphy, who was wanted by police, and told them he wasn't in her home when he actually was. Lafferty's defense counsel wanted the trial court to offer a proposed final instruction that defined a fugitive from justice as someone who is charged with criminal activity in one state and flees to another state. Her counsel relied on Frost v. State, 527 N.E.2d 228 (Ind. Ct. App. 1988), to enter the instruction. The trial court refused the proposed instruction.

In Frost, and in Myers v. State, 765 N.E.2d 663, 667 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), the court held a fugitive from justice was someone charged with criminal activity in one state and flees from that jurisdiction to another.

The state failed to present any evidence that Murphy had fled from one state to another. The state argued that the court should employ a broader definition of "fugitive from justice" to refer to anyone who flees from officers. While the appellate court agrees that I. C. Section 35-44-3-2 should apply to any defendant who harbors a criminal, regardless of where the crime was committed, the court doesn't believe it should overrule the holdings in Frost and Myers.

The state failed to use the alternative language in the statute that says the statute also applies to someone who assists another person "who has committed a crime, or is a fugitive from justice ...," wrote Senior Judge William I. Garrard. Had the state elected to charge Lafferty as having harbored John Murphy, "a person who has committed a crime" instead of "a fugitive from justice," then the proof at trial would have been adequate, the judge wrote. Instead, it only alleged Murphy was a fugitive from justice, and the state failed to prove he was a fugitive from justice under Frost. The Court of Appeals also noted that its research failed to find any Indiana case questioning or challenging the Frost definition.

The appellate court reversed Lafferty's conviction and ordered her discharged.

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  1. Video pen? Nice work, "JW"! Let this be a lesson and a caution to all disgruntled ex-spouses (or soon-to-be ex-spouses) . . . you may think that altercation is going to get you some satisfaction . . . it will not.

  2. First comment on this thread is a fitting final comment on this thread, as that the MCBA never answered Duncan's fine question, and now even Eric Holder agrees that the MCBA was in material error as to the facts: "I don't get it" from Duncan December 1, 2014 5:10 PM "The Grand Jury met for 25 days and heard 70 hours of testimony according to this article and they made a decision that no crime occurred. On what basis does the MCBA conclude that their decision was "unjust"? What special knowledge or evidence does the MCBA have that the Grand Jury hearing this matter was unaware of? The system that we as lawyers are sworn to uphold made a decision that there was insufficient proof that officer committed a crime. How can any of us say we know better what was right than the jury that actually heard all of the the evidence in this case."

  3. wow is this a bunch of bs! i know the facts!

  4. MCBA .... time for a new release about your entire membership (or is it just the alter ego) being "saddened and disappointed" in the failure to lynch a police officer protecting himself in the line of duty. But this time against Eric Holder and the Federal Bureau of Investigation: "WASHINGTON — Justice Department lawyers will recommend that no civil rights charges be brought against the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., after an F.B.I. investigation found no evidence to support charges, law enforcement officials said Wednesday." http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/us/justice-department-ferguson-civil-rights-darren-wilson.html?ref=us&_r=0

  5. Dr wail asfour lives 3 hours from the hospital,where if he gets an emergency at least he needs three hours,while even if he is on call he should be in a location where it gives him max 10 minutes to be beside the patient,they get paid double on their on call days ,where look how they handle it,so if the death of the patient occurs on weekend and these doctors still repeat same pattern such issue should be raised,they should be closer to the patient.on other hand if all the death occured on the absence of the Dr and the nurses handle it,the nurses should get trained how to function appearntly they not that good,if the Dr lives 3 hours far from the hospital on his call days he should sleep in the hospital

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