June 17, 2023 | Indiana Law
Car theft is an infuriating situation that no one wants to find themselves in. Many vehicle owners are justifiably angry at the idea of someone else attempting to steal their hard-earned property. However, the question of whether a person can legally use force – especially with a firearm – to defend their safety and property is a complicated one.
Indiana and Self-Defense
Indiana has a set of laws related to self-defense, which allows individuals to reasonably use force to protect themselves or others from an imminent threat of harm. This law outlines when deadly force is acceptable, citing that it can be used:
- To prevent serious bodily injury or death to oneself or someone else
- To stop the imminent threat of a forcible felony
Even in these cases, the force used must be reasonable to stop the progression of the crime. So, can you shoot someone simply for trying to steal your car in Indiana? The short answer is no.
When Can You Use Force To Protect Your Property?
Under Indiana law, it’s crucial to understand the difference between protecting yourself and protecting your property. In most instances, you can’t use deadly force to safeguard your property – including your car – unless a specific set of circumstances has been met. According to Indiana law, permissible uses of force include:
- Preventing or stopping someone from illegally entering or vandalizing your dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or
- Preventing someone from forcibly removing you or another person from your dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle.
However, you cannot use deadly force to protect your unoccupied vehicle. Instead, you should call law enforcement and report the incident.
What Should I Do if I Shoot Someone Trying To Steal My Car?
If you have been in a situation where you’ve used deadly force against someone attempting to steal your car, it is crucial to take the following steps:
- Invoke your right to remain silent. Refrain from discussing the details of the incident or making any statements without first consulting a lawyer.
- Contact a criminal defense attorney. The legal process surrounding the use of deadly force is complicated, so you will need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to help you navigate the system.
The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the better. An experienced criminal defense attorney can protect your rights and interests from the onset and can ensure you’re not taken advantage of by the police or prosecution.
Alternative Ways To Protect Your Car From Theft
Instead of grabbing your gun when you see someone trying to steal your car, consider these safer and legal alternatives:
- Invest in an Anti-Theft System: Car alarms, steering wheel locks, and GPS trackers can deter thieves and help recover your vehicle if it’s stolen.
- Practice Good Parking Habits: Park in well-lit, populated, and safe areas, and always lock your car. Avoid leaving valuables visible inside the vehicle.
- Install Security Cameras: Security cameras around your property can serve as a deterrent and help identify thieves in case of an incident.
By taking these measures, you can avoid the serious consequences that may result from shooting someone who is attempting to steal your vehicle.
How an Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
A criminal defense attorney is your best ally when facing criminal charges related to the use of force against someone trying to steal your car. The attorney can:
- Explain your rights: Understanding your rights and available defenses is key to navigating the legal process effectively.
- Evaluate the evidence: An experienced attorney can analyze the evidence and circumstances surrounding the incident to determine the potential strengths and weaknesses of your case.
- Negotiate with prosecutors: Skilled lawyers can negotiate a plea deal on your behalf, potentially reducing charges and reaching a favorable resolution.
- Represent you in court: If your case goes to trial, a knowledgeable attorney can argue on your behalf and ensure a fair trial.
It’s crucial to remember that these situations can be complex, and the legality of your actions will ultimately depend on the specific details of your case. For help, contact a criminal defense attorney today to schedule a free consultation.
Contact the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Indianapolis
101 W Ohio St #2000
Indianapolis, In 46204