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Indiana Public Intoxication Law Held Unconstitutional in Part

LEGAL ALERT: Indiana Supreme Court Weighs in on Public Intoxication Law

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed an Indianapolis man's conviction for public intoxication in Marion County determining that the term "annoy" in the context of Indiana's new public intoxication law is unconstitutionally vague. To convict someone of public intoxication under the amended law, the State must prove that the person was (1) intoxicated while in a public place and (2) harassed, annoyed, or alarmed another person. However, the term “annoy” is not defined in the public intoxication law and the court found that use of the term encouraged arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.
In this case, an Indianapolis police officer heard a man yelling at his brother, the defendant, who was sleeping on a bench inside a bus shelter. The defendant and his brother were the only two individuals present. The officer entered the bus shelter and immediately smelled alcohol. After attempting to wake the defendant numerous times and instructing him to leave the shelter three or four times, the officer arrested the defendant for public intoxication. According to the officer, the defendant's behavior was annoying because he seemed very agitated, was angry in demeanor, and appeared to be intoxicated. The State charged the defendant with public intoxication, a Class B misdemeanor, in the Marion County Superior Court.
After a bench trial, the trial court found that the defendant was intoxicated and that his behavior was enough to state that he was reasonably annoying. The defendant appealed his conviction. On appeal, he asserted that the public intoxication statute is unconstitutionally vague because it fails to define an objective standard for determining what "annoys" means. The Court of Appeals agreed holding that the term "annoys" may encompass a vast array of behavior. In addition, the statute provides no guidance for distinguishing between acceptable and annoying conduct. Furthermore, the Court stated that the statute allows arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement because the illegality of “annoying” conduct is based solely on the subjective feelings of a particular person at any given moment.
  Indianapolis Public Intoxication
Indiana Public Intoxication Defense Attorneys: Attacking the State’s Case 
When Indiana amended its public intoxication law in 2012, it became legal to be intoxicated in public as long as a person was not breaching the peace, endangering a person’s life, or harassing, annoying, or alarming another person. With the Court of Appeals case above, the State will no longer be able to prosecute public intoxication cases based on the allegation that an intoxicated person was annoying in public. If you are arrested for public intoxication, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Being drunk in public is no longer a crime and there are many viable defenses under Indiana’s new law.
Indiana Public Intoxication Defense in Lafayette, Bloomington, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne 
Gibson Law Office has defended public intoxication charges statewide. With offices in Lafayette and Fort Wayne, our attorneys have represented clients in Bloomington, Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Kokomo, Marion, and Muncie. College students are frequent targets for public intoxication arrests, and our defense attorneys understand the impact a misdemeanor public intoxication charge can have on a student seeking a job.  Our attorneys have defended hundreds of college students in public intoxication cases, including students at Purdue, IU, Ball State, and Butler.
If you are charged with public intoxication, shouldn’t you contact a team of criminal attorneys who have defended clients in more than 50 Indiana counties? Call Gibson Law Office at 855-9-GIBSON for a free consultation and we will discuss how to best defend your case.