Odd Indiana laws

January 17, 2011
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A recent appearance by former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi on an Indianapolis-area radio morning show prompted a discussion among Indiana Lawyer staffers about strange laws in Indiana. I just caught the tail end of Brizzi’s time on the show, but he had to answer a multiple-choice question as to which of the listed things were illegal in Indiana. If he got it correct, a caller would win a prize.

His question was something like “which of the following is illegal under Indiana law: visiting a hypnotist without a physician’s referral to lose weight, stop smoking, or stop swearing?” He answered correctly: stop swearing.

Indiana Code 25-20.5-1-23 made it illegal for a hypnotist to treat someone without a doctor’s referral for mental illness, addictions, various orders, pain control, or in preparation for a medical or dental procedure. But you could go see a hypnotist legally to lose weight or stop smoking without having your doctor OK it. I did some double checking, and it appears I.C. 25-20.5 has been repealed, so feel free to see a hypnotist for any reason with a clear conscience.

I did a search online and came across websites that listed “dumb” and “stupid” Indiana laws, but the majority of them have since been repealed or were no longer listed when I searched the code. Apparently hotel sheets had to be exactly 99 inches long and 81 inches wide, baths couldn’t be taken from October to March (gosh, Indiana must have been smelly in the winters), and a man over the age of 18 could be arrested for statutory rape if the female passenger in his car wasn’t wearing socks and shoes and was under the age of 17.

I did find two on the site that were still in effect. It’s against the law to catch a fish with dynamite, firearms, crossbow, or your bare hands, although it would be a pretty impressive feat to grab a fish or shoot it with a crossbow.

Another strange law - Liquor stores can’t sell cold soft drinks or water. I don’t know the back story as to why, perhaps to prevent children from wanting to come in and buy a soda or decrease the chance that you’ll break open your freshly purchased bottle of rum and mix it with a cold soda right then and there?

As lawyers and judges, you must have come across some odd laws. We’d like to know what you’ve found as you’ve practiced. Feel free to include ones that you know have since been repealed.

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  • Indiana Pi Bill
    The strangest Indiana law that I had ever heard of was a bill, not a law. In 1897, an Indiana Representative introduced a bill into the General Assembly to have pi mean something other than "3.a string of numbers." Wikipedia even has an article about it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Pi_Bill
  • Baseball on Sunday and English First
    2 nominees:

    Code of 1886 or thereabouts: Article 3, Section 313 of Crimes and Criminal Procedure: It was against the law for any person to play baseball where a fee was charged, or where a prize or reward depended on the result, on "the first day of the week, commonly known as Sunday." Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $25.

    And, though not a criminal law, but one of interest in view of legislation relating to language in government documents, the Code of 1852 required that the Constitution and Laws of Indiana be published in English and German.
  • Indiana Pi Bill
    Ri are round, cornbread are square

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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