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

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”



Post a comment to this story

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
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.