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Woman who invited abusive spouse did not violate no-contact protective order

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In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the Indiana General Assembly was deliberate when it did not criminalize the violation of a protective order by the protected person.

The COA, in Melissa Patterson v. State of Indiana, 34A02-1203-CR-235, reversed and remanded the trial court’s denial of a motion to dismiss two counts of aiding, inducing, or causing invasion of privacy as a Class A misdemeanor.  

Melissa Patterson obtained a no-contact order against her finance, Gregory Darden, following an incident of domestic battery. Twice afterward, Patterson was found with Darden and was arrested for violating the no-contact order.

She argued the trial court erred in denying her motion to dismiss the charges of aiding, inducing, or causing the invasion of privacy because the Legislature did not intend for I.C. 35-46-1-15.1 to criminalize the conduct of a protected person under the no-contract order in question.

The COA agreed, holding Indiana’s statute does not criminalize a protected person’s actions that invite or acquiesce in the violation of the no-contact order by the subject.

“The bottom line is that our General Assembly has made it abundantly clear that it recognized the possibility that orders intended to protect persons from domestic violence are issued in settings in which the protected person might invite the subject of the order to enter the forbidden zone and thus violate the order,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote. “Its failure to criminalize activity that, in two separate instances, it recognized might invite a violation of the order, must be viewed not as an omission, but as a determination that such should not be criminalized.”

Judge Rudolph Pyle III dissented, contending the plain language of the statute permits the prosecution of a protected person who deliberately helps another disobey a court order for protection.

“While the majority’s policy position may, in fact, be consonant with the General Assembly’s intent, I believe it should be left for the legislative branch to explicitly exclude the prosecution of protected persons,” he wrote.

 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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