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Court reverses woman’s driving while suspended conviction

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Because a woman’s conviction for driving while suspended was based in part on trial court speculation that she had driven farther than was necessary to put herself out of harm’s way, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the conviction.

Charrise Belton was in her boyfriend’s vehicle, which was parked outside of an Indianapolis home in an area of the city unfamiliar to her. When he came out, she could tell he was under the influence of a drug and was angry. He started yelling at her and she feared he might assault her as he had done twice in the past. When he got out of the car again, she moved to the driver’s seat and drove toward a part of town where her relatives lived.

Approximately a half mile later, she was pulled over by police on the belief the registration for the car was expired. She admitted to driving on a suspended license, explained the situation, and the officer gave her a summons.

Belton was charged with and convicted of Class A misdemeanor driving while suspended. Belton doesn’t dispute that she drove on a suspended license but argued she did so out of manifest necessity.

The Court of Appeals found the state didn’t present sufficient evidence to dispute her necessity defense. The judge questioned at what point does the necessity to leave end and how far must she drive to be out of harm’s way. The judge wondered if Belton could have found a gas station or some other place to stop before one-half mile, but no evidence was presented that those were options.

“Our review of the record demonstrates that the trial court’s determination that the circumstances had abated to a point where it was no longer necessary for Belton to drive in the instant matter are not based upon evidence presented by the State to negate Belton’s necessity defense but rather on the trial court’s speculation that Belton had driven further than necessary, i.e., past a safe location where she could have stopped and called police,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in Charrise Belton v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1310-CR-487.

 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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