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Location, location, location determines who has burden of proof

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Looking at the distance in the state statute between the description of the offense and a statutory exception, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the defendant had the burden of proof regarding a victim’s age.

Audie Wilson was convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class B felony; attempted sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class B felony; and sexual misconduct with a minor as a Class C felony.

During the trial, he did not object when the judge instructed the jury that the defendant had to prove by a preponderance of evidence that he reasonably believed the juvenile victim, C.C., was at least 16 years old.

On appeal, Wilson argued the trial court made a fundamental error by improperly giving him the burden of proving why he thought the victim was 16 years old.

Previously, in Moon v. State, 823 N.E.2d 715 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), the Court of Appeals held the lower court made no error in assigning the defendant the responsibility of what he reasonably believed the victim’s age to be.

Wilson contended the Moon court erred. He asserted the “reasonable belief” defense negates a material element of the crime – the defendant’s knowledge of the victim’s age. Therefore, the defendant’s knowledge of the victim’s age must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the state.

The COA disagreed in Audie Wilson v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1210-CR-846.
 
The Court of Appeals pointed to the sexual misconduct statute and location of the exception in relation to the location of the definition of the principal offense. There, the exception was contained in a subsequent clause so, according to the COA, the defendant must raise an affirmative defense and must bear the burden of proof.

In a footnote, the court pointed out that no one challenged the language used in this particular jury instruction.

“We believe the instruction as given was erroneous,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote. “However, any error in this instance inured to Wilson’s benefit.”
 

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  1. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

  2. Being dedicated to a genre keeps it alive until the masses catch up to the "trend." Kent and Bill are keepin' it LIVE!! Thank you gentlemen..you know your JAZZ.

  3. Hemp has very little THC which is needed to kill cancer cells! Growing cannabis plants for THC inside a hemp field will not work...where is the fear? From not really knowing about Cannabis and Hemp or just not listening to the people teaching you through testimonies and packets of info over the last few years! Wake up Hoosier law makers!

  4. If our State Government would sue for their rights to grow HEMP like Kentucky did we would not have these issues. AND for your INFORMATION many medical items are also made from HEMP. FOOD, FUEL,FIBER,TEXTILES and MEDICINE are all uses for this plant. South Bend was built on Hemp. Our states antiquated fear of cannabis is embarrassing on the world stage. We really need to lead the way rather than follow. Some day.. we will have freedom in Indiana. And I for one will continue to educate the good folks of this state to the beauty and wonder of this magnificent plant.

  5. Put aside all the marijuana concerns, we are talking about food and fiber uses here. The federal impediments to hemp cultivation are totally ridiculous. Preposterous. Biggest hemp cultivators are China and Europe. We get most of ours from Canada. Hemp is as versatile as any crop ever including corn and soy. It's good the governor laid the way for this, regrettable the buffoons in DC stand in the way. A statutory relic of the failed "war on drugs"

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