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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. Please I need help with my class action lawsuits, im currently in pro-se and im having hard time findiNG A LAWYER TO ASSIST ME

  2. Access to the court (judiciary branch of government) is the REAL problem, NOT necessarily lack of access to an attorney. Unfortunately, I've lived in a legal and financial hell for the past six years due to a divorce (where I was, supposedly, represented by an attorney) in which I was defrauded of settlement and the other party (and helpers) enriched through the fraud. When I attempted to introduce evidence and testify (pro se) in a foreclosure/eviction, I was silenced (apparently on procedural grounds, as research I've done since indicates). I was thrown out of a residence which was to be sold, by a judge who refused to allow me to speak in (the supposedly "informal") small claims court where the eviction proceeding (by ex-brother-in-law) was held. Six years and I can't even get back on solid or stable ground ... having bank account seized twice, unlawfully ... and now, for the past year, being dragged into court - again, contrary to law and appellate decisions - by former attorney, who is trying to force payment from exempt funds. Friday will mark fifth appearance. Hopefully, I'll be allowed to speak. The situation I find myself in shouldn't even be possible, much less dragging out with no end in sight, for years. I've done nothing wrong, but am watching a lot of wrong being accomplished under court jurisdiction; only because I was married to someone who wanted and was granted a divorce (but was not willing to assume the responsibilities that come with granting the divorce). In fact, the recalcitrant party was enriched by well over $100k, although it was necessarily split with other actors. Pro bono help? It's a nice dream ... but that's all it is, for too many. Meanwhile, injustice marches on.

  3. Both sites mentioned in the article appear to be nonfunctional to date (March 28, 2017). http://indianalegalanswers.org/ returns a message stating the "server is taking too long to respond" and http://www.abafreelegalasnswers.org/ "can't find the server". Although this does not surprise me, it is disheartening to know that access to the judicial branch of government remains out of reach for too many citizens (for procedural rather than meritorious reasons) of Indiana. Any updates regarding this story?

  4. I've been denied I appeal court date took a year my court date was Nov 9,2016 and have not received a answer yet

  5. Warsaw indiana dcs lying on our case. We already proved that in our first and most recent court appearance i need people to contact me who have evidence of dcs malpractice please email or facebook nathaniel hollett thank you

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