May 18, 2011

Right to Reasonably Resist Unlawful Police Entry Struck Down

On Thursday, May 12, the Indiana Supreme Court held in Barnes v. State that an individual has no right to reasonably resist by force the unlawful entry into his home by a police officer. Under this opinion, the court overturned an ancient common law right to resist unlawful entry as well as Indiana case law upholding this right as recently as 1985. The court went on to say that resisting “an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.”

While many states struck down the English common law right to use reasonable force to resist unlawful arrest by police about 60 years ago, this case goes beyond the use of force against an unlawful arrest. By its opinion, the Indiana Supreme Court has eliminated the defense of reasonably resisting the unlawful entry of a police officer into a person’s home.

While this should not have any immediate impact on the right of privacy within the homes of families in Indiana, it is all the more important for members to contact us should they have contact from authorities about their home or educational program.

The Fourth Amendment still protects your right to the privacy of your home. You are not required by Barnes v. State to consent to the entry of your home; you just can’t forcibly resist authorities’ attempts to enter. HSLDA has never suggested the forcible resistance of an unlawful attempt by the police to enter your home. Should a police officer unlawfully force his or her way into home, you would have recourse through the courts.

We will continue to monitor this case and the potential impact on Indiana families in the near future.

 Other Resources

Read the Barnes v. State case >> (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)