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Walking down sidewalk while drunk does not meet new conditions for public intox, COA rules

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Four criteria added to the state’s public intoxication statute in 2012 presented the Indiana Court of Appeals with a question of first impression when it considered a man’s arrest for being drunk in a public place.

David Holbert was stopped by police after a neighbor observed his suspicious behavior and called 9-1-1. Officers discovered a baggie of marijuana and noted his eyes were glassy and bloodshot, he smelled of alcohol, his speech was slow and slurred, and he walked unsteadily.

Subsequently, the state charged Holbert with possession of marijuana, as a Class A misdemeanor, and public intoxication, as a Class B misdemeanor.  

Holbert argued the state failed to present sufficient evidence to support his conviction for public intoxication. In 2012, the Indiana General Assembly amended the public intoxication statute, Indiana Code 7.1-5-1-3, by adding four conditions that clarify when drunkenness becomes a Class B misdemeanor.

These criteria are the endangerment of the individual’s life; the endangerment of the life of another person; breaching the peace or in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or harassing, annoying or alarming another person.

Holbert asserted he did not meet any of the four criteria while in a public place and therefore could not be convicted of public intoxication.

The Court of Appeals agreed. In David Holbert v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1302-CR-54, the court reversed Holbert’s conviction, finding no evidence that he engaged in any of the four listed criteria.
 

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  1. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

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  5. It would appear that news breaking on Drudge from the Hoosier state (link below) ties back to this Hoosier story from the beginning of the recent police disrespect period .... MCBA president Cassandra Bentley McNair issued the statement on behalf of the association Dec. 1. The association said it was “saddened and disappointed” by the decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown. “The MCBA does not believe this was a just outcome to this process, and is disheartened that the system we as lawyers are intended to uphold failed the African-American community in such a way,” the association stated. “This situation is not just about the death of Michael Brown, but the thousands of other African-Americans who are disproportionately targeted and killed by police officers.” http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2016/07/18/hate-cops-sign-prompts-controversy/87242664/

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