If you’ve paid attention to the headlines (SF Gate, Bloomberg, RT, and more) over the past few weeks, you may think a new ruling in Indiana makes it okay to shoot officers. But if you paid attention to the actual law behind the headlines, you would know differently.
Lawmakers passed an amendment to the Indiana Castle Doctrine (yes, the IN. counterpart to the FL. Law invoked in the Trayvon Martin case), that essentially ensures public service officials (including police officers) are not exempt from having forced used against them under qualifying conditions.
What’s a qualifying condition for a castle doctrine defense? If the police, or anyone else for that matter, enters your home without consent (and without a warrant or legal justification), you are permitted to use a reasonable amount of force to get them out. If you believe this person(s) entry into your home puts you or your family at risk of death, you can use lethal force.
This doesn’t apply if the cops have a warrant. You can’t shoot them just because you are scared for your life, if they have a legitimate legal justification for entering your property. But if they attempt to gain access without legal justification, force is permitted.
The reason this amendment was needed was because of a Indiana State Supreme Court ruling in 2011. The ruling, in the case of Barnes v. State, said that, “there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” This meant the court said that cops could enter your home illegally and you couldn’t do anything to stop them. Obviously, the amendment was justified.
The headlines following the passage of this amendment were nothing more than sensationalist. News media likes the shock-and-awe of controversial headlines, even if they sometimes blur the truth.
For an in-depth analysis on the amendment and the reasons for it, take a look at Radley Balko’s piece for the Huffington Post, for which we owe much of the information in this blog post.
Self-defense is a defense that allows someone to say they had to take otherwise criminal action (an assault or homicide, for instance) in order to protect themselves or their family from physical harm. Using this defense in a court of law is trickier than it might seem on television legal dramas, however.
If you are accused of battery or something more serious, but you were acting in self-defense, contact us today for a free consultation on your case.