Use of force to protect person or property


§ 35-41-3-2: Use of force to protect person or property
Indiana Statutes:  Title 35. CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
Article 41. SUBSTANTIVE CRIMINAL PROVISIONS
Chapter 3. DEFENSES RELATING TO CULPABILITY

(a) 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.

(b) As used in this section, "public servant" means a person described in IC 35-41-1-17, IC 35-31.5-2-129, or IC 35-31.5-2-185.

(c) 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.

(d) 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.

(e) With respect to property other than a dwelling, curtilage, or an occupied motor vehicle, a person is justified in using reasonable force against any other person if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to immediately prevent or terminate the other person's trespass on or criminal interference with property lawfully in the person's possession, lawfully in possession of a member of the person's immediate family, or belonging to a person whose property the person has authority to protect. However, a person:

(1) is justified in using deadly force; and

(2) does not have a duty to retreat; only if that force is justified under subsection (c).

(f) A person is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, against any other person and does not have a duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or stop the other person from hijacking, attempting to hijack, or otherwise seizing or attempting to seize unlawful control of an aircraft in flight. For purposes of this subsection, an aircraft is considered to be in flight while the aircraft is:

(1) on the ground in Indiana:

(A) after the doors of the aircraft are closed for takeoff; and

(B) until the aircraft takes off;

(2) in the airspace above Indiana; or

(3) on the ground in Indiana:

(A) after the aircraft lands; and

(B) before the doors of the aircraft are opened after landing.

(g) Notwithstanding subsections (c) through (e), a person is not justified in using force if:

(1) the person is committing or is escaping after the commission of a crime;

(2) the person provokes unlawful action by another person with intent to cause bodily injury to the other person; or

(3) the person has entered into combat with another person or is the initial aggressor unless the person withdraws from the encounter and communicates to the other person the intent to do so and the other person nevertheless continues or threatens to continue unlawful action.

(h) Notwithstanding subsection (f), a person is not justified in using force if the person:

(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.

(i) A person is justified in using reasonable force against a public servant if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary to:

(1) protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force;

(2) prevent or terminate the public servant's unlawful entry of or attack on the person's dwelling, curtilage, or occupied motor vehicle; or

(3) prevent or terminate the public servant's unlawful trespass on or criminal interference with property lawfully in the person's possession, lawfully in possession of a member of the person's immediate family, or belonging to a person whose property the person has authority to protect.

(j) Notwithstanding subsection (i), a person is not justified in using force against a public servant if:

(1) the person is committing or is escaping after the commission of a crime;

(2) the person provokes action by the public servant with intent to cause bodily injury to the public servant;

(3) the person has entered into combat with the public servant or is the initial aggressor, unless the person withdraws from the encounter and communicates to the public servant the intent to do so and the public servant nevertheless continues or threatens to continue unlawful action; or

(4) the person reasonably believes the public servant is:

(A) acting lawfully; or

(B) engaged in the lawful execution of the public servant's official duties.

(k) A person is not justified in using deadly force against a public servant whom the person knows or reasonably should know is a public servant unless:

(1) the person reasonably believes that the public servant is:

(A) acting unlawfully; or

(B) not engaged in the execution of the public servant's official duties; and

(2) the force is reasonably necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person.

History. Amended by P.L. 161-2012, SEC. 1, eff. 3/20/2012.

As added by Acts 1976, P.L.148, SEC.1. Amended by Acts 1977, P.L.340, SEC.8; Acts 1979, P.L.297, SEC.1; P.L.59-2002, SEC

About the author

Joanne Eldridge has more than twenty years' experience as a government attorney and advocate. She served on active duty with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps for over ten years and has extensive experience in criminal and Constitutional law in both federal and state court. She is a graduate of Boston College and the George Washington University Law School and holds a Master of Laws degree in military law. She has been admitted to practice before the Maryland Court of Appeals, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Colorado Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. She is currently practicing law in northern Virginia.

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