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Facing Public Nuisance Charges? Hessler Law Can Help

Public nuisance offenses are ones in which the entire public may be considered the “victim” of a crime. They can be for seemingly innocent behavior, like being too noisy in public or public intoxication.

These charges involve crimes that offend the public’s sensibilities. In some cases, they also may involve risk of physical harm or property damage, such as the offense of rioting. Even if a nuisance charge seems minor, you can still face consequences if you’re convicted.

The Hessler Law Firm is ready to hear your story, and help you fight your public crimes charge. Call (317) 886-8800 to schedule your consultation.

Common Types of Public Nuisance Offenses

There are numerous offenses considered public nuisance crimes that are found throughout Indiana’s various code sections.

What is Disorderly Conduct in Indiana?

Under Indiana Code § 35-45-1-3, you may face disorderly conduct charges under several circumstances, including:

  • Engaging in fights or tumultuous behavior, such as conflicts outside public venues like bars.
  • Persistently making unreasonable noise, for example, loud music that disturbs others, despite requests to cease.
  • Disrupting lawful assemblies, like interfering with town hall meetings.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted,  you might face penalties up to 180 days in jail and fines reaching $1,000.

However, the possible penalties could escalate under specific conditions:

  • At Airports or During Funerals: If the act disrupts airport security or a funeral service, it becomes a felony. The penalties depend on the timing of the offense:
    • Before July 1, 2014: Such offenses are classified as Class D felonies, punishable by 6 months to 3 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
    • After July 1, 2014: These are considered Level 6 felonies, carrying penalties of 6 months to 2.5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

What Are Rioting Charges in Indiana?

Indiana defines rioting as participating in an unlawful assembly with tumultuous conduct likely to cause serious physical harm or substantial property damage. Examples of such conduct include throwing rocks, vandalizing store windows, or igniting fires in public.

Legal Penalties for Rioting

Rioting constitutes a Class A misdemeanor under Indiana Code § 35-45-1-2. A conviction carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The charge escalates to a felony if committed while armed with a deadly weapon, with penalties varying based on the date of the offense:

  • Before July 1, 2014: Considered a Class D felony, punishable by 6 months to 3 years of imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.
  • After July 1, 2014: Classified as a Level 6 felony, with potential imprisonment of 6 months to 2.5 years and a similar fine.

What are Public Intoxication Laws in Indiana?

Under IC § 7.1-5-1-3, public intoxication charges may apply if you are found under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a public setting, causing:

  • Endangerment to your own or another’s life.
  • Disturbance of the peace.
  • Harassment, annoyance, or alarm to others.

Penalties for Public Intoxication Convictions

Charges can also arise from intoxication in vehicles or public transport hubs like airports and bus stations. Public intoxication is treated as a Class B misdemeanor, with penalties including up to 180 days in jail and fines reaching $1,000.

What is Public Indecency in Indiana?

Under Indiana law, public indecency in Indiana encompasses several acts considered offensive when performed in public, including:

  • Sexual activity or explicit conduct.
  • Full nudity aimed at sexual arousal.
  • Genital fondling.
  • Exposing oneself with intent to be seen by minors under 16 years old.

Legal Consequences of Public Indecency Convictions

Public indecency charges can be felonies or misdemeanors, and a conviction could have very different penalties.

Typical public indecency charges are treated as Class A misdemeanors. Convictions could be punished with up to one year in jail and fines up to $5,000.

However, for anyone with a prior conviction, their public indecency charge could elevate to a felony. If previously convicted before July 1, 2014, you would face a Class D felony, which is punishable by six months to three years in prison, along with a fine of up to $10,000.

If you were convicted after July 1, 2014, you could face a Level 6 felony. You would face sentences of six months to two and a half years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

Possible Defenses Against Public Nuisance Charges in Indiana

Although you may feel helpless when facing criminal charges, you shouldn’t lose hope. You have the right to a trial and are innocent until proven guilty.

The state prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and with the help of the right criminal defense lawyer, you can create a strategy that introduces doubt on their case.

Some possible defenses include:

Challenging the Evidence

Challenging the state’s evidence is a crucial way to fight your charges. You and your attorney can show that you never intended to cause a disturbance or harm. You can also argue that there isn’t evidence proving that you were trying to create a disturbance.

Legal Justifications

In many public nuisance charge cases, you can argue that your actions were protected by the First Amendment, and that an arrest or charge violates your rights.

In another course of action, your attorney might be able to argue that any alleged victims affected by your actions consented to your behavior. That can severely weaken the state’s case.

Procedural Defenses

Your attorney may be able to argue that the statute that “supports” your charges has been misapplied to the situation. You would be arguing that you didn’t break the law, so the charges should not be pursued.

You may also be able to fight the charges if law enforcement violates your Fourth Amendment rights during their investigation. Proving this violation could help get your charges dismissed.

Indiana Public Nuisance FAQs

Can public nuisance charges be reduced or dismissed in Indiana?

Yes, with effective legal defense strategies, it’s possible to have public nuisance charges reduced or dismissed. Factors such as lack of intent, insufficient evidence, or first-time offenses might influence the outcome.

What should I do if I am charged with a public nuisance offense?

It’s crucial to contact an experienced defense attorney immediately. Avoid discussing the case with anyone but your lawyer to protect your rights.

How can a lawyer help with public nuisance charges?

A lawyer can challenge the prosecution’s evidence, negotiate for lesser penalties, or argue for a complete dismissal based on the specifics of your case and legal precedents. An experienced Indianapolis attorney will look out for your best interests, not their own.

Are there long-term consequences to a public nuisance conviction?

Yes. If you’re convicted of a nuisance charge, you can face more than just incarceration or fines. A conviction in Indiana can lead to a permanent criminal record, affecting employment, housing, and in some cases, professional licensing and immigration status.

Experienced Defense For Your Indiana Public Nuisance Charge

When you or a family member faces a public nuisance charge in Indianapolis or the surrounding area, you stand your best chance at avoiding a conviction or experiencing less serious penalties and consequences if you seek help from an experienced Indianapolis public crimes lawyer.

It’s never a foregone conclusion that you’ll be convicted of a crime, and a qualified Indianapolis public crimes lawyer who knows the courts, the prosecutors, and the judges can help you navigate the criminal justice system and come out the other side prepared to move on with your life after the stress and uncertainty of a criminal charge.

At Hessler Law, we have experience defending people accused of all types of crimes, as well as prior experience on the other side of the process in prosecution. That experience puts us in a position to look at all facets of your case, anticipate a prosecutor’s arguments, and prepare a defense strategy designed to get you the best possible outcome. Call us for a consultation with an Indianapolis criminal defense attorney to discuss your public nuisance charge today.