In Indiana, a crime is classified as a felony if it carries a sentence of one year or more in jail time. Most of these crimes are classified by levels 1 through 6, and may even be unclassified. Each level of a felony has an advisory sentence that gives the court a guideline for the severity of the punishment it implements. The court does not have to strictly adhere to it, however.
Below is a brief explanation of the levels of felonies in Indiana:
- Unclassified felony – Murder is an unclassified felony that may be punishable by death or 45 to 60 years in prison. It also may carry up to a $10,000 fine.
- Level 1 felony – in Indiana, is typically punishable by 20 to 40 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. An example would be aggravated rape or rape with the use of deadly force.
- Level 2 felony – These felonies are punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Manslaughter would be one example.
- Level 3 felony – These are punishable by three to 16 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. An example is aggravated battery, which causes serious injury to another person.
- Level 4 felony – This felony can result in two to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Arson is an example of this type of felony.
- Level 5 felony – These felonies carry the potential of one to six years’ imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines. Crimes such as involuntary manslaughter are usually categorized as level 5.
- Level 6 felony – These carry a sentence of six months to two and a half years’ imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines. Vehicle theft is an example of this level. Under certain circumstances, the court can reduce a level 6 felony to a class A misdemeanor.
If you are charged with any level of a felony in Indiana, it is imperative that you get a criminal defense attorney that will help you understand exactly what you are facing, and how they can help you defend yourself. The levels of punishment vary, and your criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis (or in all of Indiana) is vital to mount a viable defense that possibly gets your sentence reduced and provides you with decisive and personal legal services.
What Strategies or Defenses May My Criminal Defense Attorney Use?
Most likely, your criminal attorney will meet with you one on one in order to discuss all the details of your case, the exact consequences you may face, your previous record with the court, and various other facts that may impact the final outcome. When you enter the Indiana legal system, it is a complicated process that can be extremely stressful.
By going over your case thoroughly, you and your attorney can develop a strategy that provides you with the best possible outcome. Your criminal attorney’s most important job is to keep you out of jail altogether or reduce your jail time to the most minimal amount possible.
In some cases going to trial may be your best way of providing the best defense. This course of action is always complex, but your criminal attorney will always do their best to guide you.
Can your particular case be reduced to a misdemeanor offense? Does it have the merits that may allow that as a defense? By reducing your case to a misdemeanor, your Indiana criminal attorney may get your case resolved without any jail time. You may be able to serve house arrest or simply probation. Reducing your charge to a misdemeanor can be very effective in keeping you out of jail.
Your attorney may also be able to reduce your charge from a level 2 felony to a level 3 or 4. This would greatly diminish the consequences you face but takes the experience necessary to know the court system and all the possible variables you may be facing.
What Other Factors Affect my Criminal Defense in Indiana?
A criminal defense strategy for your prosecution will begin to emerge as your criminal defense attorney finds out more about what the prosecutor actually plans to do in your case.
For example, if a prosecutor lays out a scenario that puts you at the scene of the crime, the defense attorney may ask questions to determine if you were at another location. Your answers to questions that the prosecutor poses can change the criminal defense strategy. Your criminal defense attorney will go over these significant details with you.
The “Truth” of the Matter
In the Indiana court system, the “truth” looks different depending on the vantage point from which the person sees it. A prosecutor and a defense attorney can both use the same foundation of factual events and come up with two completely different stories. This is why in Indiana, or any state in our union, in-depth, decisive and actual legal services are necessary to properly defend your case.
Being charged with a criminal defense is a serious matter, so don’t leave your future unprotected. Retaining a criminal defense attorney is, in fact, your best defense.