Allen County Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Law Enforcement Convictions Reversed
A woman was convicted of resisting law enforcement, a Class A Misdemeanor, and Disorderly Conduct, a Class B Misdemeanor, after a jury trial in the Allen Superior Court. At trial, the defendant requested a jury instruction on protected speech arguing that her comments and noises were protected political speech directed towards the actions of the police officers. The court denied her request. The defendant appealed contesting the court’s refusal to give an instruction on protected speech.
In the case above, the defendant was at a friend’s house while the police were investigating a theft. When the officers arrested the friend, the defendant yelled at the officers to stop hurting her friend. The officers told the defendant to “calm down” and “be quiet,” but the defendant approached the officers, continued screaming, and stated, “y’all [obscenity] doing him wrong.” The defendant tried to evade an officer and was arrested.
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the convictions holding that the defendant’s comments were “political in nature” as an expression of her disagreement of the police officers’ actions towards her friend. The Court also found that the police had restricted the defendant’s expressive activity when she was arrested for disorderly conduct while screaming and swearing at the officers about how they were treating her friend. Thus, an instruction on the defense of protected speech was necessary to properly inform the jury of the defendant’s right to engage in expressive activity.
If you have been arrested or charged with disorderly conduct, public intoxication, theft, or resisting law enforcement, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately. Your constitutional rights may have violated and you may have a defense. Failure to raise a defense on time or incorrectly filing documents could result in a waiver to use that defense.
Gibson Law Office attorneys in Fort Wayne and Lafayette have extensive experience defending clients charged with serious felony and misdemeanor crimes. Contact our Fort Wayne or Lafayette office for a free initial consultation.