Question: What Evidence Is Necessary To Prove The Crime Of Public Intoxication In Indiana?
Answer: Intoxication, Plus 1 Of 4 Other Elements Are Necessary To Prove This Crime After 2012.
At approximately 2:30 AM, a police officer was standing on the sidewalk at the entrance of Sky Bar when he observed Brown exiting the bar. Brown walked out of the bar at a normal pace and ran directly into a woman who was standing in the middle of the sidewalk. The woman began to yell at Brown, so the officer approached them to stop the woman from yelling. He also told Brown to stop, but Brown ignored him and kept walking until he was stopped by Officer Jamal Bill approximately 15 feet north of the officer. When he approached Brown, the officer observed that Brown’s eyes were “extremely glassy and bloodshot,” and “[h]e smelled very strongly of alcohol.” He also noticed that Brown had a staggered walk and was distracted by the people passing by. As a result, the officer concluded that Brown was extremely intoxicated. The officer asked Brown for identification, but Brown refused to provide any. Based on his observations of Brown and the fact that Brown was intoxicated in an area that was crowded with people and subject to the occurrence of multiple fights late at night, Officer McAtee believed that Brown was endangering himself and others. Officer McAtee arrested Brown. The State charged Brown with public intoxication as a class B misdemeanor. A bench trial was held and found him guilty of public intoxication, concluding that he was intoxicated in public and in imminent danger of breaching the peace. The trial court sentenced Brown to 2 days in jail.
On appeal, the court noted that in 2012, the General Assembly amended Indiana’s public intoxication statute, which now provides that: It is a Class B misdemeanor for a person to be in a public place or a place of public resort in a state of intoxication caused by the person’s use of alcohol or a controlled substance … if the person: (1) endangers the person’s life; (2) endangers the life of another person; (3) breaches the peace or is in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or (4) harasses, annoys, or alarms another person. Ind.Code § 7.1–5–1–3(a). Therefore, in Indiana it is no longer a crime simply to be intoxicated in public; one of the four additional conduct elements must be proved as well. Brown argues that the evidence failed to show that he was in imminent danger of breaching the peace when, without looking, he ran into a woman who was standing outside the bar. He explains that this event occurred on a crowded sidewalk and that, despite the officers’ efforts to keep the path clear, it was almost impossible to pass through. Id. Thus, Brown claims that the “unintentional act of running into a woman in a crowded space, even though she responded by yelling, is not indicative of a breach of the peace.” Id. While we agree with Brown that he did not breach the peace, we affirm the trial court’s conviction based on the fact that he harassed, annoyed, or alarmed another person under Indiana Code section 7.1–5–1–3(a)(4).
The Court then noted that the evidence shows that he was on a sidewalk off Meridian Street in downtown Indianapolis, a public place, when the officers observed his behavior. Similarly, Brown did not argue that he was not intoxicated, and the evidence demonstrates that he exhibited signs of intoxication, such as glassy and bloodshot eyes, a staggered walk, and the odor of alcohol, when he was apprehended. Thus, the only element of the public intoxication statute at issue is whether Brown endangered himself or others, breached the peace or was in imminent danger of breaching the peace, or harassed, annoyed, or alarmed another person. Based on the facts of the case, we cannot say that the evidence presented by the State is insufficient to allow a reasonable trier of fact to conclude that Brown was in a public place in a state of intoxication and endangered himself or other persons, breached the peace, or harassed, annoyed, or alarmed another person. Accordingly, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support Brown’s conviction for public intoxication. 12 N.E.2d 952