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New Indiana self-defense law prevents civil lawsuits

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Posted at 5:19 PM, May 03, 2019

Editor's note: Due to incorrect information in a news release, a previous version of this story stated the law will take effect July 1. This story has since been updated to say it took effect immediately.

INDIANAPOLIS — A new law has already taken effect that provides more legal protections for Hoosiers who act in self-defense.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed House Enrolled Act 1284, authored by Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, that will give more immunity to people who have to use justifiable force.

Currently, people forced to protect themselves and their families have the right to use self-defense without fear of criminal penalties.

However, the criminals and their surviving family members could still file a civil lawsuit against a Hoosier who acted in self-defense.

Under the new law, people who used justified force in self-defense cannot be sued for civil damages if the person was committing a forcible felony.

If a judge determines self-defense was not justified, a case will still move through civil court, Lucas said.

“This new law adds an extra layer of protection to individuals who must defend themselves in dangerous situations,” Lucas said. “Protecting our individual liberties and guaranteeing every American is able to exercise their rights set forth by our Founding Fathers is so important. This award reaffirms that we are taking the right steps in Indiana to ensure gun owners are protected and legislation like my self-defense bill will continue to make Indiana a friend to legal gun owners.”

In an interview with RTV6 earlier this year, Lucas called the bill a “good Samaritan protection act.”

“In Indiana we currently have very strong protections in the case of criminal use of force in the event of self-defense, but we don't have those same protections on the civil side," Lucas said.