Know Your Risks

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When you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, it's important to know and remember what the possible outcomes in the case could be.  Of course, a dismissal or not guilty verdict is always possible, but may not be likely in your case.  Indiana has sentencing guidelines that apply, depending on how serious the charge is that you're facing.  These changed with the new sentencing code in July 2014.  If the crime you're accused of happened before July 1, 2014, you'll be sentenced under the old statutes.  However, if it happened after July 1, 2014, you will be sentenced under the new statutes.  So it's important to know the exact date on which the crime is alleged to have happened.

FELONIES BEFORE 7-1-2014

  • Murder: 45-65 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 55 years.
  • Class A Felony: 20-50 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 30 years.
  • Class B Felony: 6-20 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 10 years.
  • Class C Felony: 2-8 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 4 years.
  • Class D Felony: 6 months-3 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 18 months.

* Murder and felony offenses can also carry a fine of up to $10,000.00 each.

FELONIES AFTER 7-1-2014

  • Murder: 45-65 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 55 years.
  • Level 1 Felony (except child molest): 20-40 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 30 years.
  • Level 1 Felony Child Molest: 20-50 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 30 years.
  • Level 2 Felony: 10-30 years with an advisory sentence of 17 and 1/2 years years.
  • Level 3 Felony: 3-16 years with an advisory sentence of 9 years.
  • Level 4 Felony: 2-12 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 6 years.
  • Level 5 Felony: 1-6 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 3 years.
  • Level 6 Felony: 6 months-2 and 1/2 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 1 year.

* Murder and felony offenses can also carry a fine of up to $10,000.00 each.

MISDEMEANORS BEFORE 7-1-2014

The sentencing guidelines for misdemeanors in Indiana did not change with the 2014 revisions.  They are the same regardless of the alleged date of your crime.

  • Class A Misdemeanor:  Up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.00
  • Class B Misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00
  • Class C Misdemeanor:  Up to 60 days inn jail and a fine of up to $500.00

* There are no "advisory sentences" for misdemeanors.

CREDIT TIME BEFORE 7-1-2014

For most crimes that happened before 7-1-2014, an offender earns 1 day of good time credit for every actual day that they serve in prison or in jail.  This means that you would serve roughly half of the total sentence imposed (as long as you weren't causing problems or breaking rules).

BUT there are some exceptions, particularly for those convicted of certain offenses relating to child molestation.  In those cases, the offender will only earn 1 day of good time credit for every 6 days actually spent in jail or prison.

CREDIT TIME AFTER 7-1-2014

The calculation of good time credit was one of the big changes with the new sentencing law in 2014.  For most crimes AFTER 7-1-2014, these are the credit guidelines:

  • Misdemeanors: 1 day good time credit for every 1 day actual time.
  • Level 6 Felonies:  1 day good time credit for every 1 day actual time.
  • Other Felonies: 1 day good time credit for every 3 days actual time.  You serve roughly 3/4 of the total sentence that is imposed.
  • Credit Restricted Felons:  Those convicted of certain offenses relating to child molestation will still earn only earn 1 day of good time credit for every 6 days actually spent in jail or prison.
  • Pretrial Home Detention:  You earn 1 day good time credit for every 4 days actually served if you are on home detention on a pretrial basis.

CAN MY SENTENCE BY SUSPENDED?

In most cases, all or part of a sentence imposed by the Court can be suspended and you can be placed on probation instead of having to serve the whole sentence in prison or in jail.

HOWEVER, if you have prior convictions, you may have to serve at least the minimum sentence in some form of incarceration.  This could include prison, jail, work release or home detention.

There are also certain types of offenses where you may have to serve the minimum sentence even if you have never been convicted of a crime before.  These are typically the most serious felony offenses.

You should talk with your lawyer early on about whether all or any part of your sentence can be suspended if you are convicted, so you will be able to better understand your risks in proceeding to trial.

You should also carefully review the terms and conditions of probation that are normally imposed in the county where your case is pending, so that you can decide if probation is the right choice for you.