Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on June 22, 2021.
Please note that our law firm practices law solely in the state of Indiana, and therefore cannot provide legal services outside of this jurisdiction.
In Indiana, a felony is a crime more serious than a misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of more than one year in prison.
Indiana, as well as many other states, has established sentencing guidelines to assist judges when handing down punishments.
These guidelines are in place to ensure fair and consistent punishment without bias.
In July 2014, Indiana made changes to the Indiana Criminal Code. Before these changes, Indiana utilized an A–D classification system for felonies.
The new system involves six classes of felonies, Level 1 being the most severe and Level 6 being the least.
The Code specifies a range of fines and sentences for each level of offense.
Each felony-level also has an advisory sentence.
This sentence is used as a guideline that the court may but is not required, to consider when imposing punishment.
The judge may use the advisory sentence as a starting point, adding more or less time depending on the aggravating and mitigating circumstances.
Indiana Sentencing Chart
|Level||Sentence Range (Min.–Max.)||Advisory Sentence||Potential Fine|
|Murder||45 – 65 years*||55 years||$0–$10,000|
|Level 1||20–40 years||30 years||$0–$10,000|
|Level 2||10–30 years||17.5 years||$0–$10,000|
|Level 3||3–16 years||9 years||$0–$10,000|
|Level 4||2–12 years||6 years||$0–$10,000|
|Level 5||1–6 years||3 years||$0–$10,000|
|Level 6||6 months–2.5 years||1 year||$0–$10,000|
|A Misdemeanor||0 – 365 days||NA||$0–$5,000|
|B Misdemeanor||0 – 180 days||NA||$0–$1,000|
|C Misdemeanor||0 – 60 days||NA||$0–$500|
* Possibility of the Death Penalty or Life without Parole
Suspension of Sentences
When a sentence is “suspended,” the court places the offender on a term of probation rather than requiring them to serve the sentence in prison.
A judge may suspend all or part of the sentence at their discretion. Not all sentences are suspendable.
If someone is given a suspended sentence and put on probation and violates the terms of the probation, they may be required to serve up to their entire suspended portion of their sentence.
Murder and Level 1 Felonies
A judge may only suspend the part that is over the minimum sentence. For example, if you are sentenced to 30 years, only 10 of those years may be suspended, leaving you with a minimum, 20 years.
Level 2 and Level 3 Felonies
Except for Level 2 and Level 3 felonies involving controlled substances, a judge may only suspend the part that is more than the minimum sentence if you have a prior unrelated felony conviction.
If you have a prior conviction under Indiana Code 35-48-4-1.1 or 35-48-4-1.2 the judge may only suspend the part that is more than the minimum sentence on Level 2 or Level 3 felony controlled substance offenses as well.
Level 4, 5, and 6 Felonies and Misdemeanors
These felonies are not subject to the prohibition on the suspension of sentences.
The judge may elect to suspend the entire sentence except for mandatory jail on OVWI if you have had a prior OVWI conviction.
Indiana gives credit time, depending on the felony level, for:
- Days spent confined while waiting for trial or sentencing,
- Days of good behavior while imprisoned for a crime, and
- Educational credits and other programming in the Indiana Department of Corrections.
Credit time is classified as A–D.
Class A is for all non-credit restricted felons receiving a sentence for a Level 6 felony or misdemeanor. The credit time is one day of credit for one day served.
Class B is for all non-credit restricted felons receiving a sentence for Level 1–5 felonies or murder. The credit time is one day of credit for three days served.
Class C is for credit-restricted felons. A credit-restricted felon is anyone:
- At least 21 years of age convicted of child molestation involving sexual intercourse or deviant sexual conduct with a minor under 12 years of age;
- Convicted of child molestation resulting in serious injury or death;
- Convicted of murder and:
- The felon was committing or attempting to commit child molestation;
- The victim was a victim of a sex crime for which the person was convicted; or
- The victim was a witness against the felon in the prosecution of a sex crime, and the felon committed the murder to prevent them from testifying.
Credit time under Class C is one day of credit for six days served.
Under Class D, no credit is given. This class will serve 100% of their sentence.
Class P is reserved for those placed on pretrial home detention awaiting trial. Credit time is one day credit for four days served.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a time restriction on criminal prosecution.
This time clock begins to “run” at the moment the crime is committed. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for most felonies is five years.
For murder and Level 1 felonies, there is no statute of limitations.
Once the statute of limitations has expired, the State can no longer charge you with the crime.
Different defenses may be available to you, depending on the crime.
An Indiana criminal attorney can help you establish your defense. Below you will find some possible defenses for your case.
Constitutional Rights Were Violated
Your attorney may argue that the police violated your constitutional rights. While this is not a defense to the crime itself, it may allow evidence to be thrown out.
This may increase the chances of a not-guilty verdict or, if the evidence was important enough, could lead the court to dismiss your case altogether.
This defense is most often used to exclude statements made by a person who was not read their Miranda rights or evidence found in an illegal search and seizure.
Element(s) of the Crime Not Established
To be charged, the prosecution has the burden of proving every element of the crime.
If they have failed to establish one of the elements or their evidence is weak, your attorney may be able to help you avoid conviction.
Alibis can also help establish a defense. An alibi helps you argue that you could not have possibly committed the crime because you were somewhere else when it occurred.
Affirmative defenses argue that, although the prosecution may establish all elements of the crime, your actions were legally justified or excused for some reason.
Specific legal justifications may serve as a complete defense if you meet all the elements of the defense. These include:
- Defense of others, and
Indiana has established a “stand your ground” law, which states that you do not have to attempt to retreat when someone attacks you.
You can use reasonable force—even deadly force in some circumstances—to protect yourself, your property, or someone else without fear of criminal charges.
Your criminal attorney can help decide whether any complete defense can be established in your case.
These excuses include:
- Intoxication, and
Partial defenses may allow for a conviction of a lesser crime, but you probably will not avoid a conviction altogether.
When You Should Contact a Lawyer
Felonies should never be taken lightly. Contacting a criminal defense lawyer should be the first step in your course of action.
Your attorney can begin working on your case as soon as possible to fight for the best possible outcome.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
Our team at Eskew Law is passionate about working alongside clients during a trying time in their lives.
Our knowledge and skills allow us to properly analyze your case, come up with a plan, and fiercely advocate for you.