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 I did some double checking, and it appears I.C. 25-20.5 has been repealed, so feel free to see a hypnotist for any reason with a clear conscience.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online and came across websites that listed “dumb” and “stupid” Indiana laws, but the majority of them have since been repealed or were no longer listed when I searched the code.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 Feel free to include ones that you know have since been repealed.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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