Published in Criminal Law on May 3, 2023.
In Indiana, drug crimes are taken very seriously and carry significant penalties, including jail time, probation, and steep fines. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime in Indiana, it is essential to understand what to expect regarding sentencing. Having an experienced lawyer who has handled drug cases before can greatly assist you in getting the lightest sentence possible after a drug conviction.
What Can I Expect During the Sentencing Process?
A defendant convicted of a drug crime in Indiana can expect to go through a sentencing hearing. During this hearing, the judge will consider various factors, including the severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
The prosecution will present evidence and argue for harsh punishment. But as the defendant, you will have an opportunity to present evidence and testimony in your favor. This can include evidence of rehabilitation efforts, mitigating personal circumstances, lack of criminal history, and any other factors that may justify a lesser sentence. Your lawyer will know how to fashion an argument that can help persuade the judge to give you the lightest sentence possible.
The judge will determine an appropriate sentence based on the evidence presented. In some cases, the judge may impose a sentence below the recommended sentencing range, such as in cases where you have demonstrated significant rehabilitation efforts. In other cases, the judge may impose a sentence above the recommended range. This often happens when you have a prior criminal record or committed the offense in a particularly egregious manner.
You must work closely with their lawyers throughout sentencing to protect your rights and receive a fair sentence. You may also be able to appeal your sentence if they believe it was unjust or overly harsh.
Drug Classifications in Indiana
Before discussing the penalties for drug crimes, it is crucial to understand how drugs are classified. In Indiana, drugs are classified into five schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical use. The law deems Schedule I drugs as having the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical use while labeling Schedule V drugs as those with medical use and the lowest potential for abuse.
Penalties for Drug Crimes in Indiana
The penalties for drug crimes in Indiana depend on several factors, including the type and quantity of the drug involved, your criminal history, and the circumstances of the offense. Below are some of the penalties for drug offenses in Indiana:
- Possession of a controlled substance. This is a Class D felony in Indiana, punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Dealing with a controlled substance. This crime is a Class B felony that is punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Manufacturing or delivery of a controlled substance. This is a Class A felony that is punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
These penalties can be enhanced if there are aggravating circumstances present.
What Factors Can Lead to Enhanced Sentencing for Drug Crimes?
Several factors can lead to enhanced drug sentences in Indiana. Let’s look at some of the most common factors that may lead to enhanced penalties.
The Amount of Drugs
The amount of drugs involved in a drug crime can significantly impact your sentence. The higher the volume of drugs involved, the harsher the punishment is likely to be.
The Type of Drug
As mentioned above, Indiana law categorizes drugs into different schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical use. Schedule I drugs, like heroin and cocaine, have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Therefore, they are generally seen as more dangerous than lower-level drugs and can result in harsher sentences.
Prior Criminal History
Defendants with prior drug-related convictions may face enhanced sentences for subsequent drug offenses. The judge might even see unrelated previous criminal offenses as a pattern of criminal behavior that justifies some increase to your sentence.
The judge can enhance your penalties if you committed a drug crime within 1,000 feet of a school, park, or public housing. Additionally, you could face a harsher sentence if someone were injured or killed due to a drug crime.
The Defendant’s Role in the Offense
Defendants who played a leadership role in a drug trafficking operation may face enhanced sentences compared to lower-level participants.
It is important to note that the above factors are not exhaustive and that judges have significant discretion in determining sentences. Working with an experienced drug crime attorney can be crucial in helping you navigate the sentencing process and receive a fair sentence.
Drug Court in Indiana
In addition to the traditional criminal justice system, Indiana offers a drug court program for certain drug offenders. The drug court program is a specialized court that focuses on treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment. The program includes drug treatment, frequent drug testing, and regular court appearances. The charges may be dismissed or reduced if you successfully complete the program.
Contact Our Attorneys at Eskew Law
Whether you are wondering about drug crime sentencing because you are facing a first or third offense, contact the attorneys at Eskew Law. We understand no two cases are alike, and we provide a unique defense tailored to your case. Call us to schedule a free consultation.