The Indiana Court of Appeals has struck down the part of its public intoxication law that makes it a crime to “annoy” another person while drunk in public, TheIndyChannel reports.
So in other words, it’s now legal to be an annoying drunk in Indiana. Score.
The court found the provision unconstitutionally vague following an appeal from Rodregus Morgan, who was arrested in 2012 for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. Here’s what happened: he was asleep and allegedly drunk in a bus shelter. A police officer woke him up and ordered him to vacate the shelter. He ignored the warnings and the officer deemed his behavior “annoying.”
Morgan’s lawyers decided to appeal the verdict, claiming that it’s just way too vague to determine what constitutes unlawfully annoying behavior. The court agreed, stating the following opinion:
The statute neither requires that a defendant have specifically intended to annoy another, nor does it employ an objective standard to assess whether a defendant’s conduct would be annoying to a reasonable person. Furthermore, the statute does not mandate that the defendant have been first warned that his behavior was considered annoying conduct.
The court then overturned Morgan’s public intoxication conviction. His disorderly conduct conviction, however, remained intact, perhaps because Morgan threatened to “kick the officer’s [expletive].”
But as for the “annoying” part of the equation, Morgan’s lawyers are right. If we started convicting everyone who did something somewhat “annoying,” we’d be building hundreds of new prisons each day.