In two surprising legal opinions, Cornelius Tyrone Lacey, Sr. v. State of Indiana and Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana, the Indiana Supreme Court is arguably whittling down your rights against search and seizure. See Northwest Indiana Times Article, “Court: Police Serving Warrant May Enter Without Knocking if Circumstances Justify It”, 10 May 2011; Northwest Indiana Times Article, “Court: No Right to Resist Illegal Cop Entry into Home” 12 May 2011.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. The identical respective provisions read as follows:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search or seizure, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized. ” U.S. Const. 4th Amend. (1792); Ind. Const. Art. I Sec. 11.
In the first case, Cornelius Tyrone Lacey, Sr. v. State of Indiana, Lacey challenged the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from the execution of a search warrant by police forcing their way into his residence without first knocking and announcing their presence, which was the law up until this precedent. According to the Court, the Indiana Constitution does not require prior judicial authorization for the execution of a warrant without knocking and announcing when justified by exigent circumstances known by police when the warrant was obtained.
In the second case, Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana, the Court overturned the longstanding common law right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers, citing public policy concerns as the compelling reason for doing so. In other words, the Court is saying here that practicality requires that we soften our rights against search and seizure. The Court is also saying that a citizen’s sole remedy against unreasonable searches–a backward looking remedy–is in the civil justice system, as well as through the courts to suppress such evidence. In the case at bar here, the issue before the Court was whether “reasonable resistance” can be used as a defense to battery upon a police officer. The answer to this question is an obvious, clear, and resounding NO. In this case, physical evidence was not recovered from the apartment in order to convict Barnes. Such evidence should, theoretically, have been excluded in a suppression hearing if it were illegally obtained, but there is no absolute guarantee.
What the Court appears to be saying here is, “self-help” is not available to enforce one’s Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 11 rights, but rather, one must move to suppress the evidence and/or file a civil suit to protect those rights if they are violated; after the fact, that is.
Have your civil rights been violated? Do you need a lawyer to represent you in a criminal matter? Contact Gordon Etzler & Associates by calling (219) 531-7787 TODAY to get the representation that you need and deserve.