Powers & Duties of the Sheriff

Sheriff as Constitutional Officer

Indiana Constitution (IC) Article 6, Section 2: There shall be elected, in each county by the voters thereof, at the time of holding general elections, a Clerk of the Circuit Court, Auditor, Recorder, Treasurer, Sheriff, Coroner, and Surveyor, who shall, severally, hold their offices for four years; and no person shall be eligible to the office of Clerk, Auditor, Recorder, Treasurer, Sheriff, or Coroner more than eight years in any period of 12 years.
Indiana Sheriffs Association Badge

Powers & Duties of the Sheriff

IC 36-2-13-5: The Sheriff has the following specific powers and duties:
  1. The Sheriff must arrest without process persons who commit an offense within his view, take them before a court of the county having jurisdiction, and detain them in custody until the cause of the arrest has been investigated.
  2. The Sheriff must suppress the breaches of peace, calling the power of the county to his aid if necessary.
  3. The Sheriff must pursue and jail all felons.
  4. The Sheriff must execute all process directed to him by legal authority.
  5. The Sheriff must serve all process directed to him from a court or the county executive.
  6. The Sheriff must attend and preserve order in all courts of the county.
  7. The Sheriff must take care of the county jail and the prisoners there.
  8. The Sheriff may take photographs, fingerprints, and other identification data of persons taken into custody for felonies or misdemeanors. Any person who refuses to be fingerprinted or photographed or who withholds information or who gives false information when taken into custody commits a Class C misdemeanor.
Note: In Thornton v. State, 636 NE.2d 140 (Ind. App.1994), the Indiana Court of Appeals held that signing a false name on a fingerprint card while being booked into jail constitutes forgery as a Class C Felony.

Sheriffs Term of Office

IC 36-2-13-2: The term of office of the Sheriff elected under Article 6, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana is four years and continues until his successor is elected and qualified. The Sheriff must reside within the county where he was elected and forfeits his office if he ceases to be a resident of the county.

Qualification for Office

IC 5-8-3-1: The Indiana Constitution, Article 6, Section 4 requires only that the Sheriff must be a voter in the county and have been a resident of the county for at least one year before his election.

In addition to the constitutional requirements, the general Indiana statute for office holders prohibits anyone from holding office who has ever:
  1. Been convicted of evading the Selective Service Act
  2. Been convicted of a conspiracy or attempt to defraud the government of the United States
  3. Been convicted of any seditious utterances in violation of any laws of the United States
  4. Been convicted of any crime against the laws of the United States where the sentence imposed was more than six months imprisonment

Removal From Office

IC 5-8-1-21 to 37 and IC 5-8-2-1: There is a general method for removing all public officials by impeachment. In the case of Sheriffs and their deputies, they may be removed from office for official misconduct. This usually requires a willful and malicious failure to perform official duties or conduct which makes the officer unfit to perform his duties. There are four specific grounds for removal from office:
  1. Conviction of a felony while in office
  2. Charging and collecting illegal fees for services
  3. Refusal or neglect to perform official duties
  4. Voluntary intoxication on duty or habitual intoxication
In the case of conviction for felony, removal from office is automatic upon pronouncement of judgment. In order to remove an officer on the other three grounds, it is necessary for the grand jury to present an accusation in writing and serve it on the defendant officer. The officer has 10 days to answer the accusation in the proper court. Failure to appear may cause the court to proceed in the absence of the defendant. The accusation will be decided in a jury trial using the same procedure as for a misdemeanor. If convicted on the accusation, the officer will be removed from office.