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Decision resolves conflicting appellate rulings

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An offense of attempted dissemination of matter harmful to minors can be committed when a defendant attempts to transmit prohibited matter by the Internet to an adult police detective posing as a minor, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The high court granted transfer to Andrew King v. State of Indiana, No. 49S04-0911-CR-507, to resolve a conflict in Indiana Court of Appeals decisions in Alpin v. State, 889 N.E.2d 882 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), and Gibbs v. State, 898 N.E.2d 1240 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008). King argued there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction of attempted dissemination of matter harmful to minors because the material was actually received by an adult police officer. He claimed because it's not a crime to send such material over the Internet to someone who is over 18, it isn't a crime to attempt to engage in that activity. King also argued that subsection (b)(3) of the dissemination statute operates to exempt the statute from the general attempt statute and indicates the legislature's intent to not criminalize the transmission unless the recipient is actually a minor.

The justices examined the statutes defining attempt and dissemination of matter or conducting performance harmful to minors and upheld King's conviction. The general attempt statute applies to dissemination of matter harmful to minors and the crime of attempted dissemination isn't precluded when the intended minor recipient is actually an adult, wrote Justice Brent Dickson. The essence of an attempt is that one or more elements of an offense are not fully satisfied, but a defendant still has taken a substantial step toward the offense while acting with the requisite intent of that offense. If each of the elements of an offense is fully satisfied, the charged offense will be the offense, not an attempt of that offense.

In King's case, he sent the inappropriate matter to someone he thought was younger than 18 years old. The only element not met for the offense of disseminating matter harmful to minors is that the recipient was not younger than 18. Because the recipient was not a minor, the defendant was charged with attempted dissemination, rather than dissemination, of matter harmful to minors, wrote Justice Dickson.

As a result of their ruling, the justices disapproved and overruled Alpin and Gibbs to the extent that they may be read to prohibit convictions for attempted dissemination of matter harmful to minors where the supposed minor is actually an adult.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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