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Judges uphold public intox conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s public intoxication conviction, finding police had reasonable suspicion the man was intoxicated, and evidence is sufficient to support the conviction.

In Michael Woodson v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1106-CR-543, police were called to an Indianapolis street on the report of a man and woman fighting. When police arrived, they were directed to Michael Woodson and a woman, who were not fighting at that moment. The woman left after speaking to officer Christopher Chapman, but police noticed Woodson smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred.

Woodson admitted drinking and wouldn’t keep his hands out of his pockets, so police put him in handcuffs and arrested him for public intoxication. Woodson filed a motion to suppress, which was denied. He was convicted of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication.

The COA affirmed, finding the initial encounter with police did not require reasonable suspicion to approach Woodson because it involved a “casual and brief inquiry of a citizen, which involves neither an arrest nor a stop.” But once police smelled alcohol on Woodson and noticed his impaired speech, the initially consensual encounter evolved into a Terry stop. This stop was justified by reasonable suspicion based on the phone call from a concerned citizen and the officer’s observations.

The judges also found sufficient existed to support the conviction.  

 

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