ILNews

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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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