Barnes v. State


Defendant convicted at trial for battering a police officer and resisting arrest.  When police officers responded to a “domestic violence in progress call” arrived at the scene, the husband, assaulted and engaged in a scuffle with the responding police officer.   In fact, Barnes had only been throwing things against the wall and had not been physically assaulting the victim.  When police arrived he was in the parking lot and spoke with police.  After the victim threw his things out the door Barnes went back into the house and told officers they could not come in, at which time he blocked the doorway.  The victim did not explicitly invite the officers in.  One officer attempted to enter the apartment and was shoved by defendant and the scuffle then ensued.


At trial Barnes tried to assert a jury instruction of the right to reasonably resist an unlawful entry into one’s home.  The trial court refused the instruction and the jury convicted. The court of appeals found the court erred in refusing to give instruction and ordered a new trial. *Instruction is required when it is  a correct statement of the law and not covered by any other instruction and relevant to the facts.


Whether the right to reasonably resist an unlawful entry extends to entry by a police officer.


Conviction affirmed.  The castle doctrine is not a defense to the crime of battery or other violent acts on a police officer.  While a defendant may reasonably resist an unlawful arrest, reasonable resistance does not include battery or violent acts against police officers.   “We believe however that a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Nowadays, an aggrieved arrestee has means unavailable at common law for redress against unlawful police action.” “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest—as evident by the facts of this instant case.”

A warrant is not always required to lawfully enter a home (when the officer is in hot pursuit).  Moreover, the officer could have made a mistake and good faith, which would subject him to physical harm.


“The Model Penal Code eliminated the right (to resist unlawful police action) on two grounds: ‘(1) the development of alternate remedies for an aggrieved arrestee, and (2) the use of force by the arrestee was likely to result in greater injury to the person without preventing the arrest.’”

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