A Look At Indiana's Self-defense Law

In today’s blog the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower take a look at your right to self defense in Indiana. It is an important right recognized by law, but as can be seen below at can be difficult in its implementation.
The Indiana legislature felt so strongly about the right to self-defense that they put in the legislation an explanation of the importance of the law.  A rather unusual circumstance.
Per Indiana self-defense statute, the legislature said ” In enacting this section, the general assembly finds and declares that it is the policy of this state to recognize the unique character of a citizen’s home and to ensure that a citizen feels secure in his or her own home against unlawful intrusion by another individual or a public servant. By reaffirming the long standing right of a citizen to protect his or her home against unlawful intrusion, however, the general assembly does not intend to diminish in any way the other robust self defense rights that citizens of this state have always enjoyed. Accordingly, the general assembly also finds and declares that it is the policy of this state that people have a right to defend themselves and third parties from physical harm and crime. The purpose of this section is to provide the citizens of this state with a lawful means of carrying out this policy.”
The legislator then went on to set forth Indiana’s self-defense law by first addressing a person’s rights when defending either their person or another person.  The law states,
“A person is justified in using reasonable force against any other person to protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person:
(1) is justified in using deadly force; and
(2) does not have a duty to retreat;
if the person reasonably believes that that force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.”
In short if you are defending yourself or another from imminent attack you have the right to use reasonable force to defend yourself or the other person.  However, to use deadly force you must demonstrate that you or the other person is facing a situation that can cause serious bodily injury.
Next the law looks at what a person’s rights are when it comes to defending their home.  In defending your home the law states,
“A person:
(1) is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, against any other person; and
(2) does not have a duty to retreat;
if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person’s unlawful entry of or attack on the person’s dwelling, curtilage, or occupied motor vehicle.”
Here, if someone is unlawfully entering or attacking your home, occupied vehicle or land you have the right to use force, including deadly force if necessary, to stop the attack.
The legislature also codified that a person has the right to use force including deadly force to stop an act of hijacking or terrorism.
There are also several instances where the legislature has stated you give up your right to use self defense.  These include:
(1) is committing, or is escaping after the commission of, a crime;
(2) provokes unlawful action by another person, with intent to cause bodily injury to the other person; or
(3) continues to combat another person after the other person withdraws from the encounter and communicates the other person’s intent to stop hijacking, attempting to hijack, or otherwise seizing or attempting to seize unlawful control of an aircraft in flight.
In these three instances a person asserting self-defense will fail, and the Court should refuse to instruct the jury on the defense of self-defense.
If you have been charged with a crime and believe you were acting in self-defense, contact the lawyers at Banks & Brower for a free case analysis today. The Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower have experience dealing with self defense claims in matters as minor as simple battery or as serious as murder. Give us a call at 317-870-0019 to understand your rights.