Judges reverse trespass conviction of man kicked out of bar

October 27, 2015

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a defendant that there is insufficient evidence to support his criminal trespass conviction after he was kicked out of a downtown Indianapolis bar.

Jonathan Powell was inside Bartini’s when a bouncer asked him to leave and escorted him outside. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer Matthew Cook was working off-duty at the bar and told Powell he had to leave. Powell, appearing to be intoxicated, told Cook he didn’t want to leave and wanted to go back inside. Powell began yelling at Cook and people walking by the club, so Cook moved him from the bar’s side of the sidewalk to across the street. Powell was then arrested and charged with public intoxication and criminal trespass, but was only convicted of criminal trespass.

The COA reversed in Jonathan E. Powell v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1503-CR-135. The state had to prove that Powell knowingly or intentionally refused to leave the bar’s real property after Cook asked him to do so and that Powell did not have a contractual interest in the property. The evidence in this case doesn’t show that Powell was on Bartini’s property when Cook asked him to leave. Thus, the state failed to prove that Powell refused to leave the bar’s real property after Cook told him to do so.

The judges rejected the state’s claim that Walls v. State, 993 N.E.2d 262 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), supports its argument that even if Powell was not on bar property, the COA can still affirm his conviction. In Walls, the defendant was kicking doors of apartment residents trying to enter and put his foot through the threshold of one apartment door. The COA held the tenants had a sufficient possessory interest in their apartment doors, threshold and immediate areas by which they accessed their leased apartment units to allow a criminal trespass conviction when a defendant refuses to leave those areas after being requested to do so.

But in this case, there is no indication Powell attempted to re-enter the bar or put his foot across the threshold.


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