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Justices divided over man’s conviction of criminal trespass

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The state failed to prove an essential element of criminal trespass, according to one Indiana justice, so he dissented from his colleagues’ decision to uphold a man’s conviction stemming from his refusal to leave his bank.

In Walter Lyles v. State of Indiana, 49S02-1201-CR-49, Walter Lyles appealed his conviction of Class A misdemeanor criminal trespass. He went to a branch of his bank to receive a free print out of his account, but the bank policy requires a $6 fee for a statement. He became “irate and disrespectful” and was asked to leave several times by bank employees. A police officer came when Lyles refused to leave and arrested him after asking him multiple times to leave.

The Court of Appeals reversed.

Lyles argued that there was insufficient evidence for the trier of fact to infer that he lacked a contractual interest in the real property of the bank. The term “contractual interest in the property” isn’t defined in the criminal trespass statute or anywhere else in Indiana Code.

“At trial, there was evidence that the defendant was neither an owner nor an employee of the bank as well as evidence that the bank manager had authority to ask customers to leave the bank premises. This evidence, taken together, refuted each of the most reasonably apparent sources from which a person in the defendant's circumstances might have derived a contractual interest in the bank's real property: as an owner, as an employee, and as an account holder. Thus, we hold that there was sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer that the defendant did not have a contractual interest in the bank's real property,” wrote Chief Justice Brent Dickson for the majority.

Justice Robert Rucker dissented, citing Court of Appeals caselaw that defines “contractual interest” in the criminal trespass statute as the right to be present on another person’s property, arising out of an agreement between at least two parties that creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing.

Based on existing precedent, Lyles had a contractual interest in the bank’s premises and his conviction for criminal trespass can’t stand. Evidence may have supported a disorderly conduct conviction, but the state did not charge him with that, Rucker wrote.
 

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  • Chase
    Just another example of the poor little guy (obviously, since he had a public defender) getting screwed by the morons at IMPD, our corrupt courts, and the big monster mega bank called Chase (which should have been allowed to fail during the financial crisis of 2008). I'm sure the report says IMPD officer asked him to leave multiple times, but they frequently falsify police reports, and the judges take them at their word.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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