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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. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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