Analysis on Developments in Indiana Law and Practice

Case Update: Criminal Liability for Protected Persons and No-Contact Orders

The Indiana Court of Appeals addressed whether a protected person can be held criminally liable for aiding, inducing, or causing another person to violate the no-contact order today in Melissa Patterson v. State of Indiana. Patterson obtained a no-contact order against her fiance after an incident where she was the victim of domestic battery. She was subsequently found to be living with him, and she was later charged with aiding a violation of the no-contact order.

In a case of first impression in Indiana, Judge Friedlander wrote for a 2-1 majority that “the General Assembly did not intend that the prohibitions in I.C. ยง 35-46-1-15.1 should be applied to a protected person under a no-contact order.” Citing the Ohio Supreme Court case of State v. Lucas, 795 N.E.2d 642 (Ohio 2003), the majority recognized a compelling public policy interest in insulating the protected person from prosecution, because otherwise “a violator of a protection order could create a real chill on the reporting of the violation by simply threatening to claim that an illegal visit was the result of an illegal invitation.”

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