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Morris v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 7, 2018

Jeffrey S. Morris, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Knox Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 42D02-1706-CM-515 The Honorable Ryan S. Johanningsmeier, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Mark Small Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Chandra K. Hein Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          May, Judge.

         [¶1] Jeffrey S. Morris appeals his conviction of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication.[1] Morris argues the State did not provide sufficient evidence to support his conviction. Because the State failed to provide evidence to demonstrate Morris's alleged intoxication was due to "alcohol or a controlled substance, " Indiana Code section 7.1-5-1-3, as required by the statute defining public intoxication, we reverse.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On June 14, 2017 between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m., Vincennes Police Officer Robert Hammond was dispatched to investigate a man wearing only underwear. Upon arrival, Officer Hammond identified the individual as Morris. Morris was in the roadway, wearing just underwear, sweating profusely, and displaying signs of paranoia. Officer Hammond instructed Morris to remain inside his house the rest of the day.

         [¶3] Over the course of the next four hours, Officer Hammond responded to four more calls regarding Morris. Each time Officer Hammond found Morris in the same condition: wearing only underwear, sweating profusely, and acting paranoid. The fifth time Officer Hammond responded to a call regarding Morris, Morris was waiting in front of a house to retrieve his bicycle. Officer Hammond arrested Morris for public intoxication.

         [¶4] The State charged Morris with Class B misdemeanor public intoxication. At Morris' bench trial, Officer Hammond testified he arrested Morris based on paranoia, profuse sweating, and previous experiences with Morris where Officer Hammond speculated Morris had been under the influence of bath salts. Officer Hammond testified he believed Morris was "potentially under the influence of bath salts." (Tr. at 8.) In its decision, the trial court stated:

I think there are two main issues here today, one is intoxication and then the other is whether there was breaching the peace. I'm going to find that there was breaching the peace based on his appearance as well as the officer's observation of his behavior. I'm also going to find that there was intoxication based on the officer's prior contact with, with Mr. Morris and what the officer observed, especially paranoia and when compared to the past contact. So I'm going to enter Guilty on the charge of Public Intoxication as a Class B Misdemeanor.

(Id. at 26.) The trial court found Morris guilty of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication and sentenced Morris to 180 days, with sixty executed and one year on probation.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶5] Morris argues the State provided insufficient evidence to convict him of public intoxication. When considering the sufficiency of evidence, "a reviewing court does not reweigh the evidence or judge the credibility of the witnesses." McHenry v. State, 820 N.E.2d 124, 126 (Ind. 2005). We must affirm "if the probative evidence and reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence could have allowed a reasonable trier of fact to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 126 (internal citation omitted).

         [¶6] To prove Morris committed Class B misdemeanor public intoxication, the State had to present sufficient evidence Morris was: (1) in a public place, (2) in a state of intoxication from alcohol or a controlled substance, and (3) breached the peace or was in imminent danger of doing so. See Ind. Code § 7.1-5-1-3(a)(3) (relevant elements of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication). Morris does not challenge that Officer Hammond found him in a public place. Instead, he challenges the State's proof of his intoxication and of his breach or imminent breach of the peace. We need address only the adequacy of the State's proof of Morris' intoxication to reverse. See Clark v. ...


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