[r63] Protecting those that serve and protect us

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, March 16, 2012

Senate Bill (SB) 1 was passed by the General Assembly this year in response to a Supreme Court decision in the 2011 Barnes vs. Indiana court case.  The Court was deciding a case that dealt with whether a particular jury instruction was properly denied by the trial judge.  However, in dealing with that issue, the Court went on to hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.  This ruling threw out 200 years of recognized common law in this country. 

Our laws are quite clear on when law enforcement officers have the legal and lawful right to enter your home.  A few examples of when law enforcement has the lawful right to enter an individual’s home would be:  when responding to a 911 call for domestic violence, when a person is trying to escape from law enforcement or is currently committing a crime, or if they are there to serve a warrant or have a search warrant.

In any of these situations, entry by law enforcement is legal, and individuals have never had the legal ability to resist entry. SB 1 does not change any of these scenarios. In fact, resisting law enforcement in any legal entry situation will only add to your legal woes.

However, SB 1 does reaffirm Indiana’s Castle Doctrine laws, which were passed in 1976 and then strengthened in 2006. It clarifies that the General Assembly’s intent is to give all Hoosiers the right to protect their homes against the unlawful actions of others, regardless of their occupation.  Law enforcement has been operating under these statutes for years. Following the 2011 Barnes vs. Indiana decision though, our laws did not provide homeowners any legal defense in the event that an unlawful entry of law enforcement occurred.

We do not live in a police state; we live in a free society. It is our responsibility in the legislature to make sure our citizens are protected from any abusive situations in the future. The strong bipartisanship support of SB 1 reaffirms those long-held protections. Our society has great respect and support of our law enforcement officials, and we all need to continue that tradition.