Violent crime is trending upwards in Indianapolis and that includes auto thefts. Indiana law explicitly allows you to defend yourself against an attempted carjacking. Generally speaking, the statute allows people to defend themselves.
It also specifically lists your dwelling, curtilage, or occupied motor vehicle as places you can defend with any force you deem reasonably necessary. So if you’re sitting in your car and someone is attempting to take control of your vehicle, you can almost certainly use force to defend yourself.
Self-Defense or Retaliation?
Deadly force, of course, is rarely justified, and sometimes self-defense can go wrong. For example, if you’re pulled out of your vehicle and the thief is driving away, you are not allowed to shoot at them.
In this scenario there’s no longer a physical threat to your person, and deadly force can’t be used to defend property. It may not seem fair, but firing a gun at the fleeing carjacker is at least criminal recklessness, which starts as a Level 6 felony, carrying a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Damage Makes Things Worse
If someone is hit by one of your bullets, that can result in charges of aggravated battery as a Level 3 felony, which carries a maximum of 16 years in prison and $10,000 fine. If—heaven forbid— someone is killed by that bullet, you can be charged with murder, which can result in the death penalty or life imprisonment.
This is true even if there’s a good argument for voluntary manslaughter based on the presence of sudden heat. Voluntary manslaughter is still a Level 2 felony carrying a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The Reasonable Requirement
All self-defense claims must be reasonable, and Indiana’s stand your ground law only applies to a vehicle when you’re in it. No one is allowed to use deadly force on a fleeing thief. It’s legally impossible to defend yourself against someone who is retreating or otherwise leaving the scene.
So even though it’s possible for self-defense to be justified in a carjacking context, vehicles can be replaced more easily than people. Acting in self-defense can be just as dangerous for you as it is for the aggressor or criminal.
Make the Right Call
If you have any questions about self-defense or criminal charges in general, give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!