Stand Your Ground / Self-Defense Laws in Indiana

Self-defense is no game, and you can count that doubly true when it comes to using lethal force in self-defense. This is a decision you cannot afford to get wrong, and anybody who pops off with a pithy aphorism that they would rather be judged by twelve than carried by six has clearly never been judged by twelve…

But good news for the residents of Indiana: Indiana has a laboriously codified and affirmative statute covering self-defense, and self-defense using lethal force in particular.

flag of Indiana

Though it does seem to double back on itself in several places you can be confident knowing that so long as you are acting reasonably and using the minimum necessary level of force to stop an attack on yourself or someone else you need not worry about any duty to retreat or other nonsense.

You can get just the facts and the rest of this article.

What You Need to Know

  • Indiana state law explicitly allows the use of lethal force in defense of yourself or another so long as it is done to prevent the risk of great bodily harm or death, or the commission of a forcible felony.
  • You may use deadly force to terminate an attack upon or attempted entry into property including one’s dwelling, the curtilage of a dwelling or an occupied vehicle but only if it is necessary to halt the attack or intrusion!
  • Indiana has extensive caveats covering the use of force if one is considered the initial aggressor or provocateur of an attack or other force. Make sure you steer clear of any and all unnecessary confrontations so you keep the law on your side in the state.

General Provisions

Indiana’s state statutes on the use of force in self-defense seem to repeat and belabor the point as to when you can stand your ground in defense, with several paragraphs in the prime section being basic copies of the essential concept. Despite this, the law is clear and easy to understand.

Broadly speaking, you can use force up to and including lethal force in defense of yourself, another person, or your home or occupied vehicle without any obligation to retreat in the eyes of the law so long as the force is used to prevent unlawful force which may cause death or great bodily injury being used against you, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Forcible felonies are typically things like arson, burglary, robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and so forth.

Essentially, if you are facing a lethal threat or an attempted intrusion into your home (home invasion) or vehicle (carjacking) then you can use lethal force to terminate that attempt so long as it is decided that lethal force was reasonably necessary to do so.

Restrictions

Indiana law goes on in some detail regarding use of force including lethal force in defense of properties that are not dwellings or occupied vehicles.

They do make a provision for the use of lethal force in such circumstances so long as that use of force meets the criteria for allowable use of lethal force in any other circumstance, meaning you or someone else are directly threatened with death or great bodily injury, or a forcible felony is being committed against you.

Also take care of that Indiana has strict laws forbidding the use of force if one is found to be the initial aggressor or provocateur in a confrontation. Make sure you keep your attitude in check so you do not commit a blunder that is beyond recall.

Assessment

Indiana is definitely a pro self-defense state, but armed citizens are cautioned to be on their very best behavior as Indiana has strict regulations about the use of force if one is found to be the initial aggressor in the eyes of the law.

You do not have any duty to retreat in the state of Indiana so long as lethal force indeed necessary to stop an equally lethal threat or forcible felony from being done to yourself or another.

Relevant Indiana Use of Force Statutes

Criminal Law and Procedure Section 35-41-3-2

Sec. 2 . (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 35-31.5-2-129 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).

(…)

(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.

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