An Indiana law that took effect this year has caused controversy and lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), media organizations and others. It limits how close people can get to police without risking being charged with unlawful encroachment on an investigation.
Specifically, the law makes it a Class C misdemeanor to “knowingly or intentionally [approach] within twenty-five (25) feet of a law enforcement officer lawfully engaged in the execution of [their] duties after the law enforcement officer has ordered the person to stop.” Those convicted can potentially be sentenced to 60 days in jail and have to pay a $500 fine.
Supporters say the law enhances safety for everyone
The law, according to one of the state representatives behind it, is intended to “give officers another tool to help control a scene to maintain their safety and the public’s safety.” Police also contend that the law is intended to help keep everyone safe. One police official says that people are free to record, but “it’s just a matter of encroaching up and creating the environment where a secondary issue could occur because somebody is so close….”
Others argue that it’s unconstitutional
However, the ACLU and others argue that it makes it difficult for reporters and bystanders to record police interactions with suspects and the public. According to one lawsuit, “The unbridled discretion given to law enforcement officers…allows for and invites content and viewpoint-based discrimination.” Further, it “violates the First Amendment as it gives police officers unbridled discretion…even if the actions of the citizens are not and will not interfere with the police.”
Despite the lawsuits, this remains the law. If you’re facing this charge or others related to interfering with police activity, it’s crucial to get legal guidance as soon as possible to protect your rights.