• While the law does not require technical niceties in the averments of an affidavit or indictment, the offense must nevertheless be charged in direct and unmistakable terms.
See Carter v. State, 301 N.E.2d 524, 525 (Ind. Ct. App. 1973)(quoting Hinshaw v.State, 122 N.E. 418, 419 (Ind. 1919))(“The Indiana Supreme Court has interpreted the constitutional provision that the accused be apprised of the ‘nature and cause of the accusation against him’ to require that the ‘gist of an offense shall be charged in direct and unmistakable terms.’”)
See also Garcia v. State, 433 N.E.2d 1207, 1209 (Ind. Ct. App. 1982)(citing Stevens v. State, 422 N.E.2d 1297, 1300 (Ind. Ct. App. 1981), reh’g denied) (“[T]he affidavit or information must charge in direct and unmistakable terms the offense with which the defendant is accused . . . .”)
See also Wurster v. State, 708 N.E.2d 587, 595 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999)(citing Moran v. State, 477 N.E.2d 100, 103-104 (Ind. Ct. App. 1985))(“The indictment must state the crime charged in direct and unmistakable terms.”)
• [A]n information must charge an offense in terms that put the defendant on notice of the offense with which he is charged so that he may prepare his defense and be protected against double jeopardy.
See McCune v. State, 491 N.E.2d 993, 994 (Ind. 1986)(citing Dorsey v. State, 260 N.E.2d 800, 802-03 (Ind. 1970))(“An information must be sufficiently clear to protect the accused from subsequent prosecution for the same offense and to apprise him of the character of the charge against him so that he may intelligently prepare a defense.”)
Certainty and particularity
• “The defendant has a right to require that a charge against him be made with such certainty as will enable him to distinguish it from other violations of the same statute, and with such particularity as will enable him to anticipate the proof which may be adduced against him and prepare to meet it.”
See Bickel v. State, 375 N.E.2d 274, 275 (Ind. Ct. App. 1978)(citing State v. Baker, 191 N.E.2d 499, 502 (Ind. 1963))(“An accused has a right to require that any crime alleged against him be charged with sufficient certainty to enable him to anticipate the proof which would be adduced against him so he could meet it.”)
• “The averments must be so clear and distinct that there may be no difficulty in determining what evidence is admissible thereunder.”
• The charge must be preferred with such reasonable certainty as will enable the court and jury to distinctly understand what is to be tried and determined, and fully inform the defendant of the particular charge which he is to meet. It must be particular and specific enough so that the grand jury may not base an indictment on evidence of one crime and the petit jury base a verdict on evidence of another.
See Johnson v. State, 490 N.E.2d 333, 335 (Ind. 1986)(“The offense charged in the indictment must be stated with such certainty that the accused, the court, and the jury may determine the crime for which conviction is sought.”)
• An affidavit founded on [a] statute must, with certainty and precision, charge the defendant with having committed or omitted the acts, under the circumstances, and with the knowledge or intent mentioned in the statute.
• “An indictment must state the facts and circumstances which constitute the offense charged with certainty and precision, and every material circumstance in regard to time and place, must be averred with that degree of certainty which is sufficient to exclude every other intendment.”
Construing terms when determining vagueness
• In determining whether an affidavit states the alleged offense with sufficient clarity[,] the words of the affidavit must be construed in the manner in which they are commonly and ordinarily accepted.
See Williams v. State, 395 N.E.2d 239, 246 (Ind. 1979)(citing Dorsey v. State, 260 N.E.2d 800, 803 (Ind.1970))(“In scrutinizing an information for clarity of the accusation[,] the words of the information must be construed according to their common usage.”)
• [A]ny ambiguity or uncertainty in the language used cannot be supplemented by intendment, or by argument, or by implication.
Compton v. State, 170 N.E. 325, 327 (Ind. 1930)