Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyers Representing Local Clients Accused of Committing Misdemeanors
The state of Indiana criminalizes hundreds of activities ranging from violent offenses to minor disturbances. While misdemeanors are less serious crimes that are often victimless, involve only slight injury, or are otherwise immoral or offensive to society in general, it is always a good idea to consult a knowledgeable Indianapolis misdemeanor attorney if you have been charged with a crime. While the penalties are not as severe as those for felony offenses in Indiana, misdemeanors do carry the threat of incarceration, large fines, and onerous conditions such as weekly reporting, frequent drug testing, community services, and classes. In addition, misdemeanor convictions can affect your employment, your family, and your rights. You may not be inclined to take a misdemeanor seriously simply because it isn’t accompanied by a particularly long period of incarceration or because you have received a favorable sentence in the past from a judge. However, each case is different, and many factors affect the outcome of your case, such as the quality of your attorney, who the prosecutor and judge are, how adamant any complainants are about punishment, your criminal history, and any mitigating arguments or evidence. In order to contest the Indiana misdemeanor charges, you need Indianapolis law firm Eskew Law LLC on your side.
Eskew Law LLC has served Indianapolis and Central Indiana for the past ten decades, dedicating itself to the pursuit of justice by helping clients have a voice in the system. When you first meet with our skilled Indianapolis misdemeanor attorney, he will sit you down, review your arrest, discuss your charges, explain the law, and learn about your goals for the case. Once he learns your goals, he can customize representation to pursue your desired outcome. To schedule a free initial consultation with us, call Eskew Law LLC at (317) 974-0177.
Definition of Misdemeanor
By definition, an Indiana misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is punishable by less than one year of incarceration. Misdemeanors are generally minor offenses and may involve crimes against property or the general public, as well as some crimes against persons that involve only minimal injury. Many are victimless crimes, such as public intoxication or simple possession of a controlled substance. When you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be sentenced to time in county jail. This is different from a felony, where you could be sent to state prison. In addition, misdemeanors are associated with maximum sentences, such as up to one year in county jail, and not sentencing ranges like felonies. Often times, these misdemeanor convictions can be expunged from your permanent record.
Crimes as a whole are divided into misdemeanors and felonies in Indiana. Misdemeanors are further broken down into classes, Class A through C.
- Class A: Up to one year in county jail and up to $5,000 in fines
- Example: Simple possession of marijuana
- Class B: Up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines
- Example: Public intoxication
- Class C: Up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines
- Example: Illegal possession of alcohol by a minor
Often times, judges impose much shorter sentences than the maximum or may impose an alternative sentence such as probation. In addition, Indiana prosecutors are more likely to permit defendants to participate in diversion for some misdemeanors. Diversion is a special program run by the prosecutor’s office to withhold criminal prosecution. If you successfully complete the terms of the program, you will receive special benefits such as a dismissal of the case.
Title 7.1 of the Indiana Code criminalizes intoxication in a public location such as a public park if the accused is:
- Disturbing the peace
- Alarming, annoying, or harassing another
- Endangering his own or another’s life
Public intoxication may be by drugs or alcohol. It is often charged alongside disorderly conduct. The public intoxication law is not designed to allow Indiana officers to stop and arrest every person they suspect is walking around a public place while intoxicated. Rather, the law is meant to prevent people from breaching the peace in any manner. Public intoxication is a Class B misdemeanor.
Trespassing can occur anywhere – on public or private property – that you have no legal right to be and you know you are not wanted there or if you refuse to leave property when told to do so by the property owner. For example, trespass can be charged when:
- You are not the renter or owner of an apartment and were told you did not have permission to enter yet entered anyway
- You were drinking at a bar and refused to leave after being told by the owner to leave
- Your friend decides to go for a joy ride in a stranger’s car and picks you up
- You camp on someone else’s land
- You go inside your neighbor’s home without their permission to look around
- You go to the train yard and secretly hitch a ride on a train
Trespass is a Class A misdemeanor though it can be bumped up to a felony if it is at a certain location like a school or if you already have a trespass conviction for the same property. For additional information regarding the intricacies of trespassing, speak with an Indianapolis misdemeanor attorney at Eskew Law LLC.
Disorderly conduct is also an Indiana offense that criminalizes disturbing the peace. Disturbing the peace includes:
- Mutual fights in a public place such as on the street or in front of a bar that are likely to either cause harm to a person or property
- Unreasonably loud noises such as music or yelling when asked to stop
- Disrupting a gathering or group
To be criminally liable for disorderly conduct, you must act either knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally. Disorderly conduct is a Class B misdemeanor though it can be bumped up to a felony if the disturbance occurs at an airport or near a funeral.
“Criminal mischief” is a catch-all phrase that covers (1) vandalism of another’s property and (2) financial loss or property damage caused by lies or threats. Criminal mischief must be done knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally. For instance, if you graffiti someone’s garage, smash someone’s car windows, or drive over someone’s mailbox, you have committed criminal mischief.
Criminal mischief is a Class B misdemeanor. However, it can be bumped up to a Class A misdemeanor if the property damage involved graffiti or was valued between $250 and $2,500, as well as other aggravating factors. It can be bumped up to a Class D felony if public utilities or food processing are interrupted, among other factors.
Minor in Possession of Alcohol
The legal age in Indiana is 21. It is illegal for a minor under 21 to either possess or imbibe alcohol. Possession and consumption must be done knowingly. Minor in possession is a Class C misdemeanor. In addition to the usual penalties, a conviction is also potentially accompanied by alcohol treatment and driver’s license suspension.
Accomplished Indianapolis Misdemeanor Attorney Prepared to Handle Your Case Today
If you were charged with a misdemeanor, contact Eskew Law LLC now. We will assist you with crafting a solid defense strategy and will work tirelessly to help you pursue your desired outcome. We take this privilege and responsibility seriously for all of our clients throughout Indianapolis and Central Indiana. To schedule a consultation, call Eskew Law LLC at (317) 974-0177 now.