The Role of a Felony Defense Lawyer in Indiana

January 28, 2020

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

The Role of a Felony Defense Lawyer in Indiana 

With each step in the criminal justice process, from allegation to arrest to prosecution, sentencing, and appeal, the stakes increase for the accused and the weight of the consequences looms larger. The best possible outcome in any criminal case is secured when defendants hire an experienced, aggressive felony defense lawyer in Indiana.  

The founding partners at Keffer Hirschauer LLP, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, are former prosecutors who have experience on both sides of the criminal justice system. They know the local courts in Indianapolis and across the state and have vast experience inside the courtroom. Furthermore, Bradley and Tom have assembled a team of dedicated, passionate attorneys, supported by a knowledgeable, accessible staff of paralegals and legal professionals. Our Indiana criminal defense attorneys are talented negotiators who are also skilled in the courtroom and not afraid to argue your case there if they believe it is best. 

Our firm’s team-based approach to criminal defense cases means that your Indiana felony defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP will have the resources to thoroughly investigate your case, consult with experts who might also serve as witnesses, and work tirelessly in pursuit of the best possible outcome. Call us at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to begin working on your felony defense today.  

Indiana Felony Laws and Penalties 

Felonies in Indiana are defined as criminal offenses that carry a potential penalty of more than one year in prison. They’re categorized as Level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6; the most serious felonies being Level 1 felonies, and the least serious being Level 6 felonies. Based on the most recent Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, the penalties for each are as follows 

  • Level 1 felonies – Punishable by a prison sentence between 20 and 40 years, and a maximum $10,000 fine. 
  • Level 2 felonies – Punishable by a prison term between 10 and 30 years, and a maximum $10,000 fine. 
  • Level 3 felonies – Punishable by a prison sentence between 3 and 16 years, and a maximum $10,000 fine. 
  • Level 4 felonies – Punishable by a prison term between 2 and 12 years, and a maximum $10,000 fine. 
  • Level 5 felonies – Punishable by a prison sentence between 1 and 6 years and a maximum $10,000 fine. 
  • Level 6 felonies – Punishable by a sentence between 6 months in jail or 2 1/2 years in prison, and a maximum $10,000 fine. 

Felony Murder in Indiana 

In Indiana, murder is an unclassified felony, meaning it carries its own unique penalties. A murder conviction is punishable by a prison sentence between 45 and 65 years or the death penalty, as well as a maximum $10,000 fine. 

 

The Pre-Trial Role of a Felony Defense Lawyer in Indiana 

For those charged with felonies in Indiana, the legal situation can be overwhelming. Not only does the offender face incarceration, but they must also navigate the Indiana criminal justice system all on their own. Therefore, the best way to prepare for a felony trial is to fully understand each step of the legal process and retain the best possible felony defense lawyer in Indiana.  

Everything that Happens at an Initial Hearing 

Anyone charged with a felony in Indiana has the right to an initial hearing. Generally, an initial hearing should be held within 2 days of the arrest to be considered reasonable. However, this timeframe is extended due to a weekend or holiday. If the defendant posts bond prior to the initial hearing taking place, then it must be scheduled within 20 days of the arrest to be considered timely.  

At the initial hearing, a judge will inform the defendant of the felony charges that they face, and their rights as a defendant. In addition, the court will seek information from the defendant regarding their place to hire an attorney, notifying them of their right to have one appointed, if necessary.  

If the defendant hasn’t already hired a felony defense lawyer in Indiana, it would be wise to do so either before or immediately after the pretrial hearing. If the defendant hires an attorney prior to the hearing, their attorney can provide guidance, protect their rights, and avoid self-incrimination. If you’re facing criminal charges in Indiana, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP as soon as possible. Call us today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to begin working on your felony defense. 

Discovery and Investigation with a Felony Defense Attorney in Indiana 

After the initial hearing, the discovery phase of the criminal process begins, and the prosecutor turns over all of their evidence to the Indiana felony defense lawyer representing the defendant, as required by Indiana law.  

Examples of Evidence in Discovery  

  • Prosecution’s witness list 
  • Witness statements 
  • Police Reports regarding the incident 
  • Any other evidence the state intends to use 

The defendant’s attorney should also conduct their own investigation and gather additional evidence. This may include interviewing witnesses, gathering photographic or video evidence, and discussing evidence with experts who can offer a relevant evaluation and opinion. 

Over the course of discovery and investigation, one side may find some evidence that they’d prefer to keep out of the trial. In situations like this, a defendant’s Indiana felony defense lawyer would use a pretrial motion to request an order keeping evidence out of the court. If granted, the prosecution would be barred from using that evidence against the defendant.  

How an Indiana Felony Defense Lawyer Can Negotiate for You 

Prior to a criminal hearing, a defendant’s Indiana felony defense attorney will often attempt to reach a plea agreement with the prosecution in exchange for a lower sentence than if found guilty at trial. This could result in lesser charges and penalties. If the defendant enters into a plea bargain, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled, rather than taking the case to trial.  

The Role of a Felony Defense Lawyer in Indiana at Trial 

If a plea deal is not reached, a defendant and their attorney will begin preparing for trial. During this time, a felony defense attorney in Indiana will discuss the facts surrounding the case with the defendant, as well as the evidence the prosecution plans to use against them. They may make some recommendations on defense strategy and outline the arguments that they hope to make in court.  

In addition, an Indiana felony lawyer will manage all the details and procedural aspects of the trial and the felony case, as a whole. When the trial begins, your Indiana felony defense lawyer will represent you in court, identify and question witnesses in your favor, cross-examine the witnesses brought by the prosecution and ultimately, argue the defendant’s case in front of the judge or jury.  

How a Felony Defense Lawyer in Indiana Can Help Post-Trial 

Even with the best legal representation, some cases result in a guilty verdict. If so, the next step in the process is the sentencing phase. The defendant’s attorney can argue for a sentence that is significantly lower than the state’s advisory sentence. To do so, the defendant’s Indiana felony defense lawyer will provide the court with evidence in support of their client’s case and character. If the evidence in support is strong enough, a skilled defense lawyer could even negotiate alternative sentencing or probation in some cases. 

Indiana Alternative Misdemeanor Sentencing 

Indiana alternative misdemeanor sentencing is a legal process through a Level 6 felony (considered a lower-level felony) can be converted to a Class A misdemeanor. In short, it allows an offender to seek a conviction for a less serious classification along with the benefits associated with that lesser classification, including the risk of a 2.5-year sentence, and having a felony conviction on your record. However, the statutory scheme regarding alternative misdemeanor sentencing is complicated, making guidance from an experienced felony defense lawyer in Indiana critical to your success. 

Appeals and Post-Conviction Relief in Indiana 

After conviction, an Indiana felony lawyer could also begin to evaluate grounds for appeal. Although appeals are a highly specific and complex area of the law, skilled defense lawyers are able to navigate the process and gather sufficient to successfully argue an appeal in court. Another option an Indiana felony defense attorney may suggest is post-conviction relief, a proceeding is like an appeal in that it allows a defendant to challenge a legal aspect of the trial, conviction, or sentence. However, these legal proceedings are even more complex than appeals, as they must comply with the Indiana Rules of Post-Conviction Relief, making representation by a knowledgeable defense attorney vital to success.  

Want to Speak with a Felony Defense Lawyer in Indiana Today? 

If you need representation, you can rest assured that a felony defense lawyer in Indiana from Keffer Hirschauer LLP will work hard to achieve the best possible results in your case. They’ll be communicative with you throughout the entire process, helping you feel at ease along the way. Whether you need a felony defense lawyer for a DUI, drug crimes, violent crimes, white collar crimes, or any other charge, our Indiana criminal defense attorneys will give you their best. Call us at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to begin working on your felony defense today. 

 

 

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