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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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