Skip to main content

Indiana Public Intoxication Conviction Reversed: Staggering Man Did Not Endanger Life

An Indiana man’s conviction for public intoxication was reversed after the Court of Appeals held that the State failed to prove that he endangered his own life beyond a reasonable doubt. Indianapolis Police had responded to a report of a man staggering on a sidewalk. When officers made contact, they observed he was intoxicated, and he was unable to tell them where he was headed or if he was ok. The man was arrested for public intoxication, a Class B misdemeanor.

Indiana’s Public Intoxication law requires the State to prove more than just public drunkenness to convict a person. There also must be evidence that the person endangered someone’s life; breached the peace; or harassed, annoyed or alarmed another person. In this case, the defendant was charged with public intoxication alleging that he “endangered his own life.” Following a trial. the court convicted the man, finding that staggering on a public sidewalk near a road constituted endangerment.

The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and found that the State did not present any evidence to prove that the man acted in a way that endangered his life. The Court held that it is insufficient to speculate about actions that might happen due to a person’s level of intoxication. Since the State had not presented any evidence regarding nearby traffic, or actions of the man that would have endangered his own life, his conviction was reversed.

Impact on Students at Purdue, Indiana, and Ball State

This case will have immediate impact on defending public intoxication charges filed against college students at Purdue, Indiana, and Ball State. Many students walk home from local bars, fraternities or house parties after a night of drinking. Police patrol West Lafayette, Bloomington and Muncie aggressively looking for students who may be subject to arrest for public intoxication or minor consumption of alcohol. When a student is arrested, it’s important to contact an attorney in Lafayette, Bloomington or Muncie who is familiar with recent Court of Appeals cases. An experienced attorney can attack the evidence in public intoxication case. Many of these cases can be challenged based on the State’s lack of evidence of actual endangerment.

Public Intoxication Attorneys in Lafayette, Bloomington, and Anderson

Gibson Law Office has extensive experience handling public intoxication cases. Since the public intoxication statute was amended in 2014, there are many defense-friendly court of appeals cases. Our lawyers have defended college students in public intoxication cases for more than 20 years. With attorneys in Lafayette, Bloomington, and Anderson, we have extensive experience defending Purdue, IU, and Ball State students. If you or a friend have been charged with public intoxication, call an attorney at Gibson Law Office for a free consultation.