Case Law

– A public place is “any place where the public is invited and are free to go upon special or implied invitation a place available to all or a certain segment of the public.” Wright v. State, 772 N.E.2d 449 (Ind. App. 2002).

“Unlike business enterprises, members of the public at large are not impliedly invited or encouraged to enter the common areas of an apartment house except when they have personal and private matters to conduct with the tenants.” State v. Culp, 433 N.E.2d 823 (Ind. Ct. App. 1982)

– Because an outside, unenclosed courtyard area of an apartment complex was sufficiently distinguishable from an interior common area of an apartment building such that defendant was in a public place, his arrest for public intoxication under IC 7.1-5-1-3 was not improper. State v. Jenkins, 898 N.E.2d 484 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008).

– Defendant’s claim had to be rejected that defendant could not be convicted following a bench trial of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication in violation of IC 7.1-5-1-3 because the State had not shown that defendant was “knowingly” intoxicated, despite defendant not challenging the evidence supporting the offense that defendant was (1) intoxicated in (2) a public place. That offense did not contain a mens rea, which pursuant to IC 35-41-2-2(d) would have had to apply to every element of the crime, and, thus, the State could obtain a conviction without showing that defendant “knowingly” committed the crime. Street v. State, 911 N.E.2d 654 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009).

– “On May 10, 2007, Officer Greg Taylor of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department received a dispatch concerning suspicious activity near a residence on 19th Street. Upon arriving at the scene, Officer Taylor noticed a car parked in a driveway behind a vacant house, next to an alley. Officer Taylor considered the driveway to be private property. Jones was inside the car, reclining in the front passenger seat and clearly intoxicated. There was a can of beer and a mostly empty whiskey bottle in the car. In the middle of the back seat of the car, approximately two feet away from Jones, was a handgun lying on top of a pile of clothes. The car was owned by and had been driven that evening by Leroy DeJourney, Jones’s cousin.” Id. At 1097. Defendant was charged with and convicted of possession of a handgun without a license and public intoxication. “Circumstantial evidence must do more than merely tend to arouse suspicion of guilt in order to support a conviction.” “[W]e have refused to uphold a public intoxication conviction where the defendant only was observed inside a car parked on a private driveway, and we declined to infer that the defendant must have traveled on a public road in an intoxicated state before arriving at the driveway.” The public intoxication conviction is reversed. Cahisa Jones v. State, 881 N.E.2d 1095 (Ind. App. 2008).

– Δ parked his can in the driveway of the residence of his former wife. Δ’s daughter saw Δ get out of his car. The former wife asked Δ to leave. The former wife’s new husband walked over to Δ’s vehicle, turned off the ignition and took the keys. Δ and the new husband then fought. Δ was convicted of public intoxication. Δ appealed, arguing that there was no evidence that he was in a public place.  “The State concedes that [the defendant] was not in a public place when arrested, but it contends that the conviction is supported since [the defendant] must have driven on public roads to get to [his former wife’s] residence. . . The charging information states that [the defendant] was in a state of intoxication at 10421 Hills Dale Drive ([his former wife’s] residence), not on the public roads going to the residence. Further, it is uncontroverted that [the defendant] was only observed in [his former wife’s] driveway or backyard. We reject the State’s suggestion that we broaden the charging information and infer evidence which was not actually presented at trial. [The defendant’s] public intoxication conviction is reversed.” Moore v. State, 634 N.E.2d 825 (Ind. App. 1994).

– Officers observed Δ attempting to unlock a vehicle while in the driveway of a friend’s house. Δ was convicted of public intoxication. Δ appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to show that she was in a public place.  “A public place does not mean only a place devoted to the use of the public. It also means a place that is in point of fact public, as distinguished from private, – a place that is visited by many persons, and usually accessible to the neighboring public. A private residence, including the grounds surrounding it, is not a public place.” The State presented no evidence that the parking area was used by the public in general rather than only the residences next to the area. Dissent: The officer testified that the parking area was “not really so much as a driveway, it’s just a parking area off the street, a place where people can pull in and park perpendicular to the flow of traffic.” Δ agreed that the parking area was shared by at least two residences, that of her friend and the neighboring residence.  “[I]f the majority’s definition of a public place becomes law, then it is difficult to distinguish why an apartment complex parking lot or common parking area owned by condominium owners would be a public place.” Christian v. State, 897 N.E.2d 503 (Ind. App. 2008).

– Officers observed Δ sitting in an apartment house near the top of a stairway. Δ was found not guilty of public intoxication. The State appealed, arguing that Δ was in a public place.  “[T]he enclosed common areas of an apartment dwelling are not public areas or places of public resort.” “It is well established in this state that a private residence, including the private grounds directly outside of it, is not a public place. . . We are unable to see how a private residence can be made a public place by a number of persons in the neighborhood gathering there, with or without invitation, to pass an evening in social intercourse and innocent amusement. Whether a place is public or not cannot be determined by the number of people who may gather there for some legitimate purpose, but by the place itself. Nor can it be determined by people freely and voluntarily congregating at their own pleasure, or by the invitation of others. . . a private road or way owned by a private corporation is not a public place for purposes of the public intoxication statute. . . The fact a private residence in the instant case has been converted into an apartment house does not render it or its common areas a place of public resort. It is axiomatic in Indiana that a house used for a private residence does not lose its private character merely by the fact a number of people may gather there or have access to it. This applies with equal vigor to multiple unit dwellings. Unlike business enterprises, members of the public at large are not impliedly invited or encouraged to enter the common areas of an apartment house except when they have personal and private matters to conduct with the tenants.” State v. Culp, 446 N.E.2d 969 (Ind. App. 1994).


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