Argued: October 4, 2018
from the Clay Circuit Court No. 11C01-1512-F6-890 The
Honorable Joseph D. Trout, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals No.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Stacy R. Uliana Bargersville, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Larry D. Allen Stephen R. Creason Andrew A. Kobe
Deputy Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana
purpose of a jury instruction "is to inform the jury of
the law applicable to the facts without misleading the jury
and to enable it to comprehend the case clearly and arrive at
a just, fair, and correct verdict." Campbell v.
State, 19 N.E.3d 271, 277 (Ind. 2014). Because the
challenged instruction here fell short of this objective, we
disapprove of its use going forward. But because we find that
the jury charge, as a whole, cured the instructional defect,
and because the evidence clearly sustained the
defendant's conviction, we affirm the trial court.
and Procedural History
rainy, mid-December evening, Clay County Deputy Sheriff James
Switzer noticed Christapher Batchelor driving without a
seatbelt. As the deputy approached him from behind at a
four-way stop, Batchelor reached over to fasten his seatbelt
before signaling and turning left. The deputy, driving in a
marked police cruiser, then activated his emergency lights.
But Batchelor failed to immediately stop. For the next minute
and thirty-eight seconds, Batchelor passed a gas station and
wound his way through a well-lit residential area at about
thirty-five miles per hour, making complete stops at two
intersections and passing several illuminated side streets
along the way. Even as other vehicles came to a stop during
this low-speed pursuit, and despite the piercing ring of the
deputy's siren, Batchelor simply kept driving. When the
deputy directed his LED spotlight onto the truck's side
and rearview mirrors, Batchelor finally pulled over into a
gravel parking spot on the side of the road.
Batchelor exited his truck, the deputy ordered him to the
ground. Batchelor initially complied. But as the deputy
approached to arrest him, he resisted, and a struggle ensued.
It took two more backup officers to finally subdue Batchelor.
In the end, the deputy injured his ankle, one of the back-up
officers jammed his finger, and another received a black eye.
State charged Batchelor with three crimes: Level-6 felony
resisting law enforcement by fleeing, Level-6 felony battery
on a police officer, and Class-A misdemeanor resisting
arrest. See Indiana Code §§
35-44.1-3-1(a)(3), (b)(1)(A) (2014) (felony resisting); I.C.
§§ 35-42-2-1(b)(1), (d)(2) (2014) (felony battery);
I.C. § 35-44.1-3-1(a)(1) (2014) (misdemeanor resisting).
conclusion of evidence at trial, the State proposed several
jury instructions, including one which defined the act of
fleeing, as that term applied to the felony-resisting charge.
Under that instruction-Instruction 22-a person
"flees" when he or she "attempts to escape
from law enforcement or attempts to unnecessarily prolong the
time before the person must stop." App. Vol. III, p.71.
Instruction 22 also required the State to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that the "defendant acted with the
intent to escape" or, in the alternative, that a
"reasonable driver in the Defendant's position"
would have stopped sooner. Id.
summarizing all proposed final jury instructions, the trial
court asked the parties, "We good?" Tr. Vol. III,
p.98. Defense counsel responded "Yeah" while the
prosecution replied with "No objection."
closing arguments, Batchelor claimed that he had not
attempted to flee, as there was no high-speed chase, it was
dark, it was raining, and the gravel parking spot where he
stopped was "a good and safe place to pull over."
Tr. Vol. III, pp. 108-09. He also argued self-defense,
claiming the deputy had used unlawful force in subduing him.
But the State argued that Batchelor was fleeing, citing the
numerous places he could have stopped, the well-lit streets,
and the lack of evidence supporting a reasonable safety
deliberations, the jury found Batchelor guilty on all counts
and the trial court entered judgment of conviction. Batchelor
appealed, arguing that Instruction 22 expanded the definition
of fleeing, which invaded the province of the jury and
diminished the State's burden of proof.
unanimous opinion, our Court of Appeals reversed the
felony-resisting conviction while affirming all other
convictions. Batchelor v. State, 97 N.E.3d 297, 305
(Ind.Ct.App. 2018), vacated. The panel concluded
that the jury instruction, by allowing a conviction based on
what a "reasonable driver" would have done,
permitted the State to convict Batchelor on a civil
negligence standard, resulting in fundamental error.
Id. at 303. Both parties unsuccessfully sought
granted the State's petition to transfer and now address
Batchelor's claim of instructional error as it relates to
his felony-resisting conviction. Because he fails to explain
how this error affected his felony-battery and
misdemeanor-resisting convictions, we summarily affirm those
generally review a trial court's jury instruction for an
abuse of discretion. Kane v. State, 976 N.E.2d 1228,
1231 (Ind. 2012). Under this standard, we look to whether
evidence presented at trial supports the instruction and to
whether its substance is covered by other instructions.
Id. at 1230-31. When the appellant challenges the
instruction as an incorrect statement of law, we apply a de
novo standard of review. Id. at 1231. We reverse the
trial court only if the instruction resulted in prejudice to
the defendant's "substantial rights."
Hernandez v. State, 45 N.E.3d 373, 376 (Ind. 2015).
person commits the crime of resisting law enforcement, a
Level 6 felony, when that person, using a vehicle,
"knowingly or intentionally . . . flees from a law
enforcement officer" after that officer has, "by
visible or audible means, including operation of [a] siren or
emergency lights, identified himself or herself and ordered
the person to stop." I.C. § 35-44.1-3-1.
the felony-resisting statute offers no definition of the term
"flees," our Court of Appeals offered some guidance
in Cowans v. State, 53 N.E.3d 540 (Ind.Ct.App.
2016), trans. not sought. There, the court affirmed
the defendant's resisting-by-fleeing conviction,
rejecting as a mistake of law his belief that he could delay
stopping for police due to safety concerns. Id. at
543. See Yoder v. State, 208 Ind. 50, 58, 194 N.E.
645, 648 (1935) (reciting the longstanding principle that
"ignorance of the law excuses no man") (internal
quotation marks omitted). In speculating that the defendant
was "far from alone" in his mistaken belief, the
Cowans panel decided to "address some of the
underlying issues" of that case, issues "likely to
reoccur for other citizens of Indiana." 53 N.E.3d at
543. While finding "no express sanction" in the
resisting statute for delaying a stop due to safety concerns,
the panel concluded that a driver with an "adequate
justification" may still "have some discretion to
choose the location of a stop." Id. at 544
(citing Woodward v. State, 770 N.E.2d 897, 902
(Ind.Ct.App. 2002) (acknowledging that a driver may have an
"adequate justification" for "choos[ing] the
location of the stop" but affirming the defendant's
resisting-by-fleeing conviction based on sufficient
evidence), trans. denied).
on this conclusion, the Cowans panel determined that
a defendant charged with resisting would be entitled to a
jury instruction defining the word "flee."
Id. at 545-46. This definition, the panel opined,
should explain "that if a reasonable driver in the
defendant's position would have felt unsafe to come to an
immediate halt, and if the defendant took reasonable steps to
increase the safety of the stop without unnecessarily
prolonging the process, then the defendant was not
fleeing." Id. at 546.
22 tracks this language from Cowans:
A person who fails to stop his vehicle promptly
"flees" law enforcement when the person attempts to
escape from law enforcement or attempts to
unnecessarily prolong the time before the person must
stop. It is an issue in this case whether the
Defendant attempted to escape or unnecessarily
prolonged the time before stopping. The burden is on
the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
(1) The defendant acted with the intent to escape,
(2)A reasonable driver in the
Defendant's position would not have felt
unsafe under the facts of this case to come
to an immediate halt, or
(3)[I]f a reasonable driver in the
Defendant's position would have felt unsafe to
come to an immediate halt, the driver would