Conviction splits COA in determining actions of a ‘reasonable person’

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In affirming the conviction of a man who violated a no-contact order, the Indiana Court of Appeals split over what a “reasonable person” would have done in similar circumstances.

The case originated from two separate protection orders issued against William Chavers by two different courts in Marion County.

One civil-protection order was issued by Marion Superior Court 21 on July 16, 2012, but dismissed Sept. 10, 2012. The other no-contact order was signed by Marion Superior Court 16 on Sept. 17, 2012, as a condition of Chavers’ probation following his guilty plea for Class D felony criminal confinement.

Court 16 noted the no-contact order could be vacated at the victims’ request.

A few days after the Sept. 17 hearing, Amber Cushenberry, one of Chavers’ victims who had sought the original protective order, went to Court 21 to ask the protective order be removed. She was given paperwork indicating that the order had already been dismissed. She did not go to Court 16.

On Sept. 20, 2012, Cushenberry told Chavers that she had the protective order dismissed and he could come to her home.

However, when Indianapolis Metropolitan Police discovered Chavers at Cushenberry’s home, he was charged and subsequently convicted of Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy in violation of Court 16’s no-contact order.

Chavers appealed on the grounds that his violation of the Court 16 order was a mistake of fact, negating his culpability.

The Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction, ruling in William Chavers v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1211-CR-580, that Chavers failed to show he made an honest and reasonable mistake of fact.  

Writing for the majority, Judge Paul Mathias concluded even if Chavers mistake was honest, it is not clear that his mistake was reasonable. Chavers did not ask to see Cushenberry’s documentation and instead relied only on her assertion even though he had been informed by his probation officer that day that the no-contact order was still in effect.

“In the face of such conflicting information, a reasonable person would attempt to verify the validity of the order, by looking at the dismissal papers personally, or by contacting the clerk of the issuing court,” Mathias wrote. “This is especially true of a man who had just been convicted and sentenced for D felony criminal confinement.”

In his dissent, Judge John Baker disputed that Chavers knowingly violated the order of protection. He pointed out the confusion Cushenberry had between the orders from the two courts and the confusion of the arresting officer.

“Under these circumstances, I cannot conclude that there was sufficient evidence to convict Chavers,” Baker wrote. “He was not with Cushenberry when she tried to get the no contact order vacated, and an average person could be easily mistaken regarding the exact superior court number where he or she needed to go to get a no contact vacated, especially in a county as large as Marion.”



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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.