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Geljack v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana
671 N.E.2d 163 (1996)


Facts

Kenneth Geljack, Jr. (defendant), had a suspended driver’s license. Geljack was a passenger in a car driven by his wife while they were taking their daughter to a doctor’s appointment. During the trip, Geljack noticed the car’s brakes were failing. After arriving at the doctor’s office, Geljack drove the vehicle to a nearby car repair shop, rather than having it towed. The brakes failed, causing Geljack to run a red light. A police officer witnessed the traffic infraction and subsequently arrested Geljack. The State of Indiana (plaintiff) charged Geljack with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license. At trial, Geljack raised a defense of emergency, claiming it was necessary for him to drive to the auto shop to have the brakes fixed so that they did not endanger his family. The trial court instructed the jury that, pursuant to state law, Geljack had the burden of proving that his action was necessary to save a life in an extreme emergency. A jury convicted Geljack, and he appealed, arguing that the state law unconstitutionally imposed the burden of proof on a defendant to prove an affirmative defense of emergency.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Staton, J.)

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