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Judges analyze 'use' of body armor for first time

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The Indiana Court of Appeals interpreted the elements of unlawful use of body armor for the first time in a defendant’s appeal of his convictions following his attempt to flee from police.

French Mason appealed his convictions of Class D felonies resisting law enforcement and unlawful use of body armor. Police responded to a burglary in progress report at an Indianapolis apartment complex and began searching for the suspect or suspects. The police saw two men lying in the backseat of a car, identified themselves as police officers, and ordered the men out of the car.

Mason, one of the men in the car, got into the front seat and drove the car toward an officer. After police shot at it a few times, the other passenger got out after the car stopped and he surrendered. Mason kept trying to drive the car, crashing it several times. Police eventually used a Taser on him and took him into custody. Police discovered he was wearing a bullet proof vest while he was being checked out for injuries. Mason claimed to be wearing it because he was trying to sell it to someone in the apartment complex that night.

He was convicted of three counts of resisting law enforcement, which were merged, and one conviction of unlawful use of body armor.

In French C. Mason v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1005-CR-475, the judges affirmed Mason’s conviction of resisting law enforcement – elevated to a Class D felony because he used a vehicle to resist. There was sufficient evidence that Mason knew the men were police officers.

On this challenge to his conviction of unlawful use of body armor, the judges had no caselaw on which to rely. Only one previous case, Haggard v. State, 771 N.E.2d 668 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), discusses the same crime, but doesn’t clarify what constitutes “use” of body armor.

The judges believed there to be two possible interpretations of “use” under the statute defining unlawful use of body armor: that merely wearing body armor constitutes use; or that in order to “use” body armor, one must expect it to afford reasonable protection during the commission of a felony.

Using the definition of “use” as provided in the Webster’s II New College Dictionary, they chose the interpretation that a defendant must “knowingly or intentionally” use body armor as protection in the course of a felony.

“Here, Mason does not dispute that he knowingly or intentionally wore body armor, but he does dispute that he knowingly or intentionally wore it as protection against law enforcement,” wrote Judge Patricia Riley. “We cannot agree with this assertion, however. We have previously held that ‘intent is a mental function and without a confession, it must be determined from a consideration of the conduct, and the natural consequences of the conduct.’ Accordingly, intent may be proven by circumstantial evidence.”

They found sufficient evidence to show Mason intended to wear the body armor to protect him in the commission of resisting law enforcement.

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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