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BGD Criminal Law Attorney Examines Forcible Resistance of Law Enforcement in Indiana


BGD attorney K. Michael Gaerte and co-author James J. Bell recently discussed the definition of forcible resistance to law enforcement according to the state of Indiana in a column for Indiana Lawyer. Gaerte and Bell examine relevant case law and explain the guidelines which distinguish forcible resistance from passive resistance.

In their column, Gaerte and Bell examine Macy v. State which involves a woman who believed that she had only passively resisted law enforcement during an investigation of her dog’s biting of a neighbor. Maddox Macy, the dog owner, was described as “aloof” and “not in the mood to cooperate” according to the officers at the scene.

Her “not-so Gandhi-like attempt” at passive resistance became troublesome after she began following officers and “demanding answers.” It escalated when officers handcuffed Macy and placed her in the squad car. She promptly escaped and continued her demands for answers. When officers re-engaged her, they “had to force” her into the car; she placed her feet on the ground and refused to lift them until the officer physically moved them into the car to close the door.

At her initial trial, Macy was convicted of resisting law enforcement for the act of getting out of the car but not for “stiffening up.” When appealed, she was acquitted since she did not actually forcibly resist.

The letter of the law in Indiana Code 35-44.1-3-1(a)(1) provides that it is a crime when an individual “forcibly resists, obstructs, or interferes with a law enforcement officer.” Although the officer had to use force of his own to place her back in the car, she was ruled as having not forcibly resisted.

Gaerte and Bell conclude that it is a relief that the courts determined that it is the defendant’s use of force, rather than the officer’s actions, which determines guilt under this law.

Read “Inside the Criminal Case: Passive vs. Forcible Resistance” in its entirety on the Indiana Lawyer website.

To learn more about K. Michael Gaerte and his practice, please visit his profile.


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