COA finds man was in ‘imminent danger of breaching the peace’

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a Clark County man’s conviction of public intoxication after determining there was sufficient evidence to infer the man was in imminent danger of breaching the peace.

In Alan Ruiz v. State of Indiana, 10A05-1702-CR-311, Jeffersonville Police Department officers were dispatched to the King Solomon apartments in Clark County on three different instances in one day for complaints related to Alan Ruiz, a resident. Each of the callers claimed Ruiz was intoxicated and was causing a disturbance on the property outside of the apartments, including yelling racial slurs.

After the second dispatch, officers told Ruiz he would be incarcerated if they had to return. Officer Alyssa Wright followed through on that warning when she responded to the third complaint against Ruiz, and the state charged him with Class B misdemeanor public intoxication.

The charging information alleged Ruiz either breached or was in imminent danger of breaching the peace. Ruiz’s counsel argued Wright’s observations of him yelling at fellow residents and being aggravated with her did not rise to that level, but the trial court disagreed and found him guilty as charged.

Ruiz appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against him, but the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld his conviction on Wednesday. Judge Rudolph Pyle, writing for the unanimous appellate panel, agreed with the trial court that it was “perfectly reasonable to believe that Mr. Ruiz was an imminent danger of breaching the peace.”

“Based on the evidence presented, it was reasonable for the trial court, as factfinder, to draw an inference that Ruiz — who was undoubtedly intoxicated in a public place; had behaved in a manner that required the police to come two previous times to respond to residents’ complaints about Ruiz; was yelling at residents; was admittedly ‘furious’ and had a ‘little attitude’ with the officer; and was being uncooperative with the officer — was in imminent danger of breaching the peace or disturbing the public tranquility when Officer Wright responded for a third time to the apartments,” Pyle wrote.  “Accordingly, we affirm his public intoxication conviction.”

The appellate court also noted in a footnote that there was a discrepancy between the Judgment of Conviction and Sentence — which suggests Ruiz pleaded guilty — and the transcript of the bench trial, which confirmed the court convicted him. Thus, the case was remanded to correct the written order to correctly reflect that judgment was entered pursuant to a bench trial.

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