Is a private citizen in Indiana allowed to shoot at someone who’s breaking the law? What does the law of self-defense have to say about vigilante justice?
Indiana recognizes self-defense as a defense to a criminal act. This self-defense also includes the defense of others. For example, if you reasonably believe someone is going to hit you in the face, you can hit that person first (or after they strike you) and be without any criminal consequences. This is classic self-defense. If you’re out with friends, and you reasonably believe that your friend is going to be attacked, you’re allowed to act in defense of your friend and strike that person first—or even after they’ve hit your friend. This is also self-defense.
Indiana also allows deadly force when acting in self-defense if the defense is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to a person or third person or the commission of a forcible felony. So if your attacker comes at you with a knife, and you reasonably fear for your safety, you are likely going to be okay shooting your gun at your attacker. Deadly force is also sometimes allowed when you are in your home or inside your car.
When looking at these general outlines of how Indiana applies self-defense, it becomes obvious that it’s not okay to fire a gun at someone based on a minor criminal offense. First off, the firing of a gun is deadly force. Secondly, if the person who fired the gun was not in her home or vehicle, it would be very difficult to argue defense of self or property.
Finally, unless the offense itself is a forcible felony—that is, a felony threatening harm against a human being—or creates the chance of bodily harm, there’s no legitimate rationale for using deadly force in response.
If you’re taking shots at people in Indiana, you’ll likely be facing felony charges of pointing a firearm and criminal recklessness, with a sentence ranging from six months to two-and-a-half years in prison. If you actually shoot someone, the charges could easily jump to felony aggravated battery, with a cap of twelve years in prison. If the victim were to die from the gunshot, you could possibly face a charge of murder, with a sentence of up to 65 years.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges and you think self-defense may be relevant, please call the experienced lawyers at the Marc Lopez Law Firm to discuss your case. Our number is 317-632-3642, and all initial consultations are free of charge. Or contact us by email.