The Police Approach You: Is It Time to Talk or Time to Walk?

August 15, 2014

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

When do you have to talk to police and when can you walk away? That question was recently addressed by the Indiana Supreme Court in Gaddie v. State, 49S02-1312-CR-789, 2014 WL 2922379 (Ind. June 27, 2014).

In August of 2012, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer responded to a report of a “disturbance” at a residence in Indianapolis. When he arrived, he saw about eight individuals standing on the front porch and in the front yard “screaming and yelling.” Id. He saw several other people, one of whom was Mr. Gaddie, walking along a side yard toward the back. The officer told the group to return to the front yard. Everyone except for Mr. Gaddie complied. When back-up arrived, the officer headed toward Mr. Gaddie, identified himself, and told him to stop. Mr. Gaddie, continued walking as the officer screamed at him to stop. Mr. Gaddie looked back at the officer three or four times, but continued walking away. Mr. Gaddie was intercepted a street over and arrested for resisting law enforcement. Id.

Although Mr. Gaddie was convicted of resisting law enforcement at trial, the Indiana Supreme Court threw out his conviction. It held, “[a] person’s well-established freedom to walk away is thus violated when that person is subjected to a statute that makes it a criminal offense to decline a police order to stop.” A police officer’s instruction to stop must be based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause. The Court continued, “[t]o hold that a citizen may be criminally prosecuted for fleeing after being ordered to stop by a law enforcement officer lacking reasonable suspicion or probable cause to command such an involuntary detention would undermine longstanding search and seizure precedent that establishes the principle that an individual has a right to ignore police and go about his business.” Id.

Contact us today if you have questions or believe your criminal or civil rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.