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Public Intoxication, Reversed, Behavior

Supreme Court Upholds Indiana Public Intoxication Law, but Reverses Conviction

The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the “annoying” behavior requirement in Indiana’s public intoxication statute, reversing a prior Court of Appeals decision. However, the Court held that there was insufficient evidence to find that an intoxicated man sleeping at a bus stop had annoyed anyone and reversed his public intoxication conviction.

It is no longer a crime to be publicly intoxicated in Indiana. To be convicted of public intoxication, a person must also endanger someone’s life, breach the peace, or harass or annoy another person. An Indianapolis man was sleeping at a bus stop, when a police officer tried to awaken him. The man responded to “Get off me” and was in an agitated state. The officer smelled alcohol and arrested him for public intoxication, claiming that the man’s behavior was “annoying” under the public intoxication statute.

After being convicted at trial, the defendant appealed his conviction arguing that Indiana’s public intoxication law was unconstitutionally vague, because the term “annoying” was not defined. The Indiana Supreme Court found the statute to be constitutional and that proof of annoying behavior requires a reasonable person standard. Thus, to be convicted a person must be intoxicated and engage in behavior that a reasonable person would find annoying.

The Court further held that an intoxicated person sleeping at a bus stop, when no one was present except his brother and a police officer, would not annoy a reasonable person. Thus, the Court reversed the man’s public intoxication conviction.

Can the State Prove that You Engaged in Annoying Behavior?

If you are arrested for public intoxication, it is important to retain an experienced criminal attorney. Being drunk in public is no longer a crime. If the State cannot prove that you breached the peace or engaged in dangerous or annoying behavior, you cannot be convicted. With offices in Lafayette and Fort Wayne, Gibson Law Office defends public intoxication cases statewide, including defending college students. If you are charged with public intoxication in Indiana, call us today for a free consultation.