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Criminal Sentencing Reform to Begin in Indiana in July

Last year, the Indiana General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1006, a criminal sentencing reform act that rewrote the felony portion of Indiana’s criminal code.  House Enrolled Act 1006 was authored by Hendricks County own Greg Steuerwald. The Act will lessen sentences for some felonies while strengthening them for others. The General Assembly is currently in the process of revising the Act. The Act will take effect on July 1st.

Current Classification System

Under the current felony classification system in Indiana, felonies are classified as one of four levels, Classes A-D. Class A felonies are the most severe and face a minimum sentence of 20 years. Class B felonies face a minimum sentence of six years. Class C felonies face a minimum sentence of two years. Class D felonies face a minimum sentence of one-half year. Murder is separately classified, and faces a minimum of 45 years.

Examples of Class A felonies include:

·      Armed robbery;

·      Kidnapping; and

·      Rape.

Examples of Class B felonies include:

·      Distribution of cocaine under three grams;

·      Burglary; and

·      Arson.

Examples of Class C felonies include:

·      Possession of a narcotic over three grams;

·      Distribution of marijuana over 10 pounds; and

·      Intimidation with a deadly weapon.

Examples of Class D felonies include:

·      Theft;

·      Possession of marijuana over 30 grams; and

·      Driving while intoxicated – second offense.

House Enrolled Act 1006

The House Enrolled Act 1006, as it is currently written, will create six levels of felonies, Levels 1-6. The Act compares the seriousness and severity of the crimes and assigns a level accordingly. The most severe Class A felonies will become Level 1, while other Class A felonies will become Level 2. The most severe Class B felonies will become Level 3, while the other Class B felonies will become Level 4. All Class C felonies will become Level 5, and all Class D felonies will become Level 6. This new classification scheme will increase the level of some violent offenses while decreasing the level of some non-violent offenses.

In 2009, the Indiana General Assembly established by statute the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission (CCEC). The CCEC’s role was to research, review, analyze, and revise the Indiana criminal code. The result was the House Enrolled Act 1006, designed to create proportional sentences, keep dangerous offenders in prison, and conserve limited prison space by reducing sentences for non-violent offenders.

The offenders will serve 75 percent of their sentences instead of the currently required 50 percent. The Act also strengthens the severity of sentences for sex crimes and violent crimes, while decreasing sentences for drug crimes.

To highlight how sentencing reform will change the current scheme: Suppose a man is arrested for distribution of methamphetamine under the current scheme. This man would face 6-20 years in prison but would only serve 50 percent of this sentence. If sentenced to the minimum 6 years, this man would serve three years under the current scheme. However, under the reformed scheme, this man would face 2-12 years in prison for the same offense, and would serve 75 percent of his sentence. If sentenced to the minimum two years, this man would serve 1.5 years in prison. Thus while non-violent offenders will have to serve a greater proportion of their sentences, their overall prison time will be lessened.

The reform will go into effect on July 1st. At that time, the courts will operate under both the current system and reform system until all of the cases filed under the current system are closed.

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Indiana, please consider consulting with Christopher L. Arrington. Call him today at 317-745-4494.

 By Christopher Arrington

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