Court: No public intox in private driveway

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a defendant's convictions of public intoxication and carrying a handgun without a license because there wasn't enough evidence to prove either charge.

In Cahisa Jones v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0708-CR-658, police responded to a call about suspicious activity at a location in Indianapolis. When the officers arrived, they saw a car parked in a private driveway behind a vacant house. Inside, Jones was lying in the front passenger seat with empty whiskey bottles and beer cans around her. In the backseat, there was a handgun on top of a pile of clothes. The car belonged to Jones' cousin, who had driven it earlier that day.

Jones was convicted of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication and Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license. On appeal, Jones claimed there wasn't enough evidence to convict her on either charge.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Jones and reversed both of her convictions. Judge Michael Barnes wrote that caselaw has held that intoxicated people in private cars may be charged with public intoxication when the person is a passenger in a car stopped by police on a public road, seen on a public road before pulling into a parking lot, or inside a car pulled over on the shoulder of a highway.

The appellate court has refused to uphold a conviction of public intoxication for defendants in a private car in a private driveway, because it's impossible to determine whether the person drove on a public street in order to get to the driveway. Since Jones was on a private driveway, there is insufficient evidence to uphold her public intoxication conviction, he wrote.

The Court of Appeals also cited insufficient evidence as the reason to overturn Jones' conviction of carrying a handgun without a license. The issue is whether Jones constructively possessed it, but there isn't enough evidence to show that is the case. Jones was unaware of the gun, denied it was her gun, and made no incriminating statements, therefore, her conviction should be overturned, Judge Barnes wrote.

In a footnote, Judge Barnes discussed Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-1-3, which defines a person must "be in a public place or a place of public resort in a state of intoxication..." to be charged. He wrote instead of criminalizing people who choose to be passengers in a private vehicle instead of driving, it would be better public policy to encourage people who are intoxicated to ride in a private vehicle without fear of being prosecuted for a crime.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues