On February 2, 2021, the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 198 authored by Sen. M. Young regarding rioting. The bill grants the attorney general concurrent jurisdiction with the prosecuting attorney to prosecute an action in which a person is accused of committing a criminal offense while a member of an unlawful assembly. The bill permits the chief executive officer of a political subdivision to establish a curfew under certain circumstances and makes refusing to leave a location in violation of a curfew, after having been informed of the curfew and ordered to leave by a law enforcement officer, a Class B misdemeanor. The bill allows for the civil forfeiture of property that is used by a person to finance a crime committed by a person who is a member of an unlawful assembly. The bill also prohibits a person from being released on bail without a hearing in open court, establishes a rebuttable presumption that money bail shall be required, and requires a court to consider whether bail conditions more stringent than the local guidelines should be imposed. The bill adds enhanced penalties to the crimes of: (1) rioting; and (2) obstruction of traffic and makes felony rioting a predicate offense for purposes of the felony murder statute. The bill establishes the crime of enabling rioting, a Class B misdemeanor, if a person: (1) is present during the commission of a felony by a member of an unlawful assembly; (2) knows that the member is committing a criminal offense; and (3) fails to immediately leave or report the offense to law enforcement. Lastly, the bill makes providing funding to a person to commit a criminal offense while a member of an unlawful assembly a Class A misdemeanor, and increases the penalty to a Level 6 felony if the person provides funding for five or more people, and a Level 5 felony if the person provides funding for 10 or more people.
The bill was amended to remove the crime of financing an unlawful assembly and add the crime of enabling a riot.
The Indiana Fraternal Order of Police testified in support of the bill. The Hoosier State Press Association provided neutral testimony. The Indiana Public Defender Council and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in opposition. The bill was held for further amendment.
On February 9, 2021, the bill was amended by consent to:
- permit property owners to sue when their property is damaged, or property was stolen, as a result of an unlawful assembly provided the property owner can establish that the county, city, or town, failed to exercise reasonable diligence to prevent or suppress the unlawful assembly;
- provide original jurisdiction to the local prosecuting attorney, but if the local prosecution declines to prosecute, the Attorney General may assume jurisdiction and prosecute; and
- permit a conspiracy charge for rioting.
The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified but remained neutral. The amended bill passed 6-2.
Read the bill at: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/senate/198