Resisting Law Enforcement in Indiana and Other Detention-Related Offenses
The definition and associated penalties for resisting law enforcement in Indiana (otherwise known as resisting arrest) can be found in Chapter 3 of Indiana Code 35-44.1. This chapter of Indiana criminal code, which is dedicated to detention-related offenses, also contains the laws on disarming a law enforcement officer, refusal to aid an officer, and escape, among others.
If you’ve been charged with resisting law enforcement in Indiana, or any of the detention-related crimes, you’ll want to hire a skilled Indiana defense attorney as soon as possible. As former deputy prosecutors, the criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have the experience you need to secure the best possible outcome in the case against you. Our team will thoroughly investigate the charges placed against you, walk you through all of your options, and help you craft a sound defense strategy aimed at protecting you, your future, and your rights.
Resisting Law Enforcement in Indiana
Under Indiana Code 33-44.1-3-1(a), it is a Class A misdemeanor for a person to knowingly or intentionally forcibly resist, obstruct or interfere with:
- a law enforcement officer while the officer is lawfully engaged in the execution of their duties
- a person assisting the officer while the officer is lawfully engaged in the execution of the officer’s duties
- the authorized service or execution of a civil or criminal process or order of a court
- flees from a law enforcement officer after the officer has, by visible or audible means, including operation of the law enforcement officer’s siren or emergency lights, identified himself or herself and ordered the person to stop
In addition, Indiana Code 33-44.1-3-1(b) defines the offense of “interfering with public safety.” As prescribed in this subsection, it is a Class B misdemeanor for a person who has been denied entry by a firefighter, emergency medical provider, or law enforcement officer, to knowingly or intentionally enter an area that is marked off with barrier tape or other physical barriers.
Is Resisting Arrest a Felony in Indiana?
While the offenses described above are both considered to be misdemeanors, there are some circumstances under which resisting arrest may be a felony in Indiana. If a person commits either of these offenses while drawing or using a deadly weapon, inflicting or otherwise causing bodily injury on another person, while using a vehicle, or operating a vehicle in a manner that creates substantial risk of bodily injury to another person, they may be charged with a Level 6 felony.
Furthermore, if a person who forcibly resists, obstructs, or interferes with a law enforcement officer, a person assisting an officer, or the authorized service or execution of a civil or criminal process or order of the court creates substantial risk of bodily injury to the person or another person AND has two or more prior unrelated convictions for resisting law enforcement in Indiana, they may be charged with a Level 6 felony. In addition, if a person who flees from a law enforcement officer has two or more prior unrelated convictions for resisting arrest, they may be charged with a Level 6 felony, as well.
It’s important to note that any charge under subsection (a) or (b) of this law may be elevated to a Level 5 felony if the person committed the offense while operating a vehicle in a manner that caused serious bodily injury to another person or used a vehicle to commit the offense and has a previous, unrelated conviction for the same offense using a vehicle. Moreover, an offender could be charged with a Level 3 felony if, while committing the offense, they used a vehicle in a manner that caused the death or catastrophic injury of another person; or a Level 2 felony if, while committing the offense of resisting arrest in Indiana, they operated a vehicle in a manner that caused the death or catastrophic injury of a firefighter, emergency medical provider, or law enforcement officer engaged in their official duties.
Penalties for Resisting Law Enforcement in Indiana
While the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines prescribe sentencing ranges for each level of offense, someone charged with resisting arrest as a felony in Indiana may be, under certain circumstances, subject to minimum executed sentences, which may not be suspended. The seriousness of these sentences is related to whether the person has any prior unrelated convictions under this section of Indiana law. On top of that, individuals convicted felony resisting involving the use of a motor vehicle may have their Indiana driver’s license suspended or revoked for a certain period of time.
Statutory Defenses for Resisting Law Enforcement in Indiana
Included in the first section of Indiana Code 35-44.1-3 are several statutory defenses for resisting arrest in Indiana. First, a person may not be charged with resisting arrest for fleeing from a law enforcement officer if that officer is a school resource officer acting in the officer’s capacity as a school resource officer. Second, offenses that involve entering a prohibited area after being denied access do not apply if the person reasonably believed that a family member (child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, or spouse) was in the marked off area AND had suffered (or was at risk of suffering) bodily injury. However, this defense may only be used if the person is not charged as a defendant in connection with the offense that caused the area to be secured by barrier tape or other physical barriers.
Disarming a Police Officer in Indiana
Another offense that is similar to resisting law enforcement in Indiana is disarming a police officer. As stated in Indiana Code 35-44.1-3-2, it is a Level 5 felony for a person to knowingly or intentionally take (or attempts to take) a firearm or weapon from a police officer or from the immediate proximity of the officer. However, the person charged with this offense must know that the other person is a police officer, and the officer must have the authority to carry the weapon that was taken from them. In addition, the person must lack consent from the officer to take the weapon and the officer must be engaged in the performance of their professional duties when the weapon is taken from them.
Refusal to Aid a Police Officer in Indiana
Past disarming a police officer and resisting law enforcement in Indiana, the third section of Indiana criminal code on detention describes the Class B misdemeanor offense, “refusal to aide a police officer.” Per Indiana Code 11-44.1.-3-3 this offense occurs when a person, when ordered by a law enforcement officer to assist the officer in the execution of their duties, knowingly or intentionally, and without reasonable cause, refuses to assist them.
Although Hoosiers are rarely charged with this offense, it does happen from time to time. In fact, this occurred in Northwest Indiana in 2019. In this situation, a police officer was conducting a routine traffic stop when he detected the odor of marijuana. He asked the driver to step out of the vehicle and attempted to handcuff the individual but was met with physical violence. Back-up arrived, the situation was handled, and the driver was successfully apprehended and charged with several criminal offenses. In addition, the passenger of the car was charged with refusal to aid a police officer, presumably because when requested for help, the passenger refused.
Escape in Indiana
The last detention-related criminal offense this post will examine is “escape,” as described in Indiana Code 35-44.1-3-4. Similar to resisting arrest in Indiana, this offense can occur in several different situations. First, it can occur when a person intentionally flees from lawful detention. This is considered to be a Level 5 felony offense and could be elevated to a Level 4 felony if the offense was committed by drawing or using a deadly weapon or resulted in bodily injury to another person.
As defined by Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-186, “lawful detention” means
- custody following surrender in lieu of arrest
- detention in a penal facility or a facility for custody of persons alleged or found to be delinquent children
- detention under a law authorizing civil commitment in lieu of criminal proceedings or authorizing such detention while criminal proceedings are held in abeyance
- detention for extradition or deportation
- placement in a community corrections program’s residential facility
- custody for purposes incident to any of the above including transportation, medical diagnosis or treatment, court appearances, work, or recreation
- any other detention for law enforcement purposes.
Second, a person who knowingly or intentionally leaves their home, remains outside their home, or travels to an unauthorized location in violation of Indiana house arrest rules and without written or documented authorization by a supervising entity commits escape as a Level 6 felony. In addition, a person may be charged with Level 6 felony escape if they knowingly or intentionally remove, disable, or interfere with the operation of an electronic monitoring device or GPS tracking device.
Finally, a person may be charged with a Level 6 felony in Indiana if they knowingly or intentionally fail to return to lawful detention following a temporary leave granted for a specific purpose or limited period of time. This offense is called “failure to return to lawful detention,” and can be elevated to a Level 5 felony if, while committing the offense, the person draws or uses a deadly weapon or inflicts bodily injury on another person.
Charged with Resisting Arrest in Indiana or Another Detention-Related Offense?
If you’ve been charged with resisting law enforcement in Indiana, or any other detention-related offense, do not hesitate to contact the Indiana criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. At each stage of the criminal justice process – from allegation to arrest to prosecution and conviction – our attorneys will be there for you, acting as your defender and advocate. Our firm is led by two former deputy prosecutors, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, who have a strong, intimate understanding of how local courts operate all throughout the state of Indiana. They both have deep experience negotiating with prosecutors and crafting sound defense strategies to deploy in court, if needed. Ultimately, our goal is to always secure the best possible outcome for our clients, whether that be a dismissal, a reduction of charges or a not-guilty verdict.
There’s no need to succumb to the harshest penalties under the law. Invest in your defense and speak with an attorney from our firm today by calling 317-857-0160 or completing our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.