The Times is doing a series of articles highlighting common laws and rules. Today, we examine obstructing justice and interfering with police. To suggest a law for The Times to highlight, contact the writer.
Police officers said it's common for people to do everything they can -- including lying, fighting and destroying evidence -- so that they or someone they know doesn't go to jail.
Such actions usually backfire, police said.
For example, last week, a woman who was being arrested on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge ended up having felony charges of theft and obstruction of justice added after police said she tried to tamper with evidence. Police said the woman's blood was drawn to be tested for alcohol, but she took and tried to hide the blood samples so that police could not use them as evidence against her.
The obstruction of justice statute states it's a felony to alter, damage or remove something so it can't be used as evidence in an investigation or proceeding. The statute also states it is illegal to interfere with witnesses in an investigation or court proceeding, or to try to influence a juror.
There are other Indiana laws that apply to people to try to hamper police work or court proceedings. For example, it is illegal to interfere with someone who is trying to report a crime; it is illegal to give a fake name or other false information during the investigation of a crime; and it is illegal to refuse to aid a police officer who orders assistance.
It is also illegal to resist arrest or flee from police. And it is illegal under the disorderly conduct statute to fail to calm down for police during an investigation.
And while people stopped for an infraction or ordinance violation are required to hand over a driver's license or give their name, date of birth and address, they do have the right to otherwise remain silent and not incriminate themselves.
But the bottom line, police said, is that people who battle with police or the courts generally make matters worse for themselves.
"Be forward and honest, keep your emotions under control and realize that by interfering with an officer's duty, if you weren't going to jail before, you might end up going," Porter County police Lt. Chris Eckert said.