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Fine Line Between A Consensual Police Encounter and a “Stop”

Understanding the Fine Line Between A Consensual Police Encounter and a “Stop” Under the Fourth Amendment in Indiana

As a citizen, it is important to understand that talking with a police officer is permissible and may be a consensual encounter. This might occur, such as where police round up members of a home, on police run to this home, on a report of a domestic disturbance.

In the Indiana Court of Appeals decision in the Corbin case in 1999, the court held that evidence of flight (continuing to walk) after an officers command to stop is admissible to prove the Class A misdemeanor conviction of resisting law enforcement.

In a recent case in the same court (the Indiana Court of Appeals) involving Keion Gaddie, Mr. Gaddie was rounded up in his yard as noted, but refused to stop walking from the police officer, after the police officer order Mr. Gaddie to stop. He was convicted under what became akin (in 1999 in Corbin) to a per se rule for resisting an unlawful police stop.

With conviction for Mr. Gaddie, the State argued on Mr. Gaddie’s appeal that it was a lawful investigatory stop (to find out if a was crime committed or being committed). The Court of Appeals rejected this and rejected the Corbin per se violation by failure to stop. The Court held that “to agree with the rationale in Corbin would effectively render the consensual encounter [between police and a citizen] nonexistent in the state of Indiana.”

For this reason, the newly refined or harmonized police-stop rule in Indiana is “a person [not seized] is free to disregard a police officer’s order to stop and cannot be convicted of resisting law enforcement for fleeing.”

In balancing the very delicate right to live and move about in a free society, yet have effective law enforcement, this is the balance the Indiana Court of Appeals struck at this point in time–a time when at least violent crime has dropped significantly since the 1970s.

Nevertheless, the police and ordinary members of our society should view themselves as dedicated to each other to provide a safe and free place for us all to live.

We hope you find this blog helpful to you in being an educated citizen. This blog was written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. The firm practices law through the state of Indiana.


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