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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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