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Understanding the Felony Levels in Indiana 

Navigating the legal system following an arrest can be a daunting, anxiety-ridden task. This is especially true for those facing serious criminal charges. Given this, it’s vital that everyone have some understanding of the various felony levels in Indiana, and the implications of being convicted at each level.  

The Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are dedicated to providing everyday Hoosiers with experienced, results-oriented legal representation. Our team understands Indiana criminal law inside and out, and is available to protect you, your rights and your freedom. To begin working alongside one of the best defense attorneys in Indiana, contact our firm today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.  

Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Indiana? Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP Today.

What Constitutes a Felony?  

In criminal law, offenses are typically categorized into two main types: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies represent the more serious category, associated with crimes that warrant greater penalties. These offenses can range from theft and drug offenses to more heinous crimes, like domestic battery, stalking, or sexual misconduct with a minor.  

Unlike misdemeanors, which are punishable by shorter jail sentences, felonies can lead to lengthy prison terms, substantial fines, and additional legal repercussions. Understanding the distinction between these categories, and the various felony levels in Indiana, is the first step in understanding the severity of any potential criminal charges.  

The Different Felony Levels in Indiana 

In 2014, the Indiana General Assembly reformed Title 35 of Indiana Code in an effort to reduce recidivism and make better use of the Department of Correction’s limited resources. Ultimately, this reform included significant changes to the State’s Sentencing Guidelines and the classification of felony levels in Indiana. Prior to 2014, felonies were classified by letter with A being the most severe, D being the least severe, and murder set aside as its own classification. The 2014 reforms, however, eliminated the letter categories and implemented a new numbered classification system. Now, the felony levels in Indiana are as follows:  

  • Murder: The most serious charge, with a sentencing ranging between 45 years to life, and the added potential of a death sentence.  
  • Level 1 Felony: Includes crimes such as rape and kidnapping, with potential sentences ranging from 20 to 40 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. 
  • Level 2 Felony: Covers offenses like voluntary manslaughter, carrying a sentencing range of 10 to 30 years. 
  • Level 3 Felony: Encompasses crimes such as aggravated battery, with sentences ranging from 3 to 16 years. 
  • Level 4 Felony: Includes arson and certain drug offenses, with a penalty range of 2 to 12 years. 
  • Level 5 Felony: Covers lesser drug offenses and theft, with sentences ranging from 1 to 6 years. 
  • Level 6 Felony: The least severe felony level, including auto theft and DUI with prior convictions, punishable by 6 months to 2.5 years. 

Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances 

While the potential penalties for a felony in Indiana may seem straightforward, it’s important to understand that they’re not set in stone. In general, Indiana judges have some discretion when determining appropriate sentences, depending on the specific aggravating or mitigating circumstances. As can be assumed, aggravating circumstances allow courts to impose a harsher sentence on an offender, while mitigating circumstances allow courts to impose a lighter sentence.  

When considering a criminal sentence, courts may, under Indiana Code 35-38-1-7.1(a), consider the following aggravating circumstances:  

  • The harm, injury, loss, or damage suffered by the victim 
  • The offender’s criminal history or delinquent history 
  • The age of the victim (less than 12 years old or 65+ years old)  
  • Whether the crime was committed in the presence or withing hearing of a minor 
  • Whether the offender violated a protective order, restraining order, or no contact order 
  • Whether the offender has recently violated probation in Indiana, parole, pardon, community corrections placement or pretrial release 
  • The victim was a person with a disability; or mentally/physically infirm 
  • The offender was in a position of having care, custody or control over the victim 
  • The injury to or death of the victim of the offense was the result of shaken baby syndrome 
  • The offender threatened to harm the victim of the offense or a witness if the victim or witness told anyone about the offense.  
  • The person committed trafficking with an inmate and is employed by the penal facility 
  • The person committed the offense with a bias due to the victim or group’s real or perceived characteristics, traits, beliefs, practices, associations, or other attributes 

When considering a criminal sentence, courts may, under Indiana Code 35-38-1-7.1(b), consider the following mitigating circumstances:  

  • The crime caused nor threatened serious harm to persons or property, or the person did not contemplate that it would do so 
  • The crime was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur 
  • The victim induced or facilitated the offense 
  • There are substantial grounds tending to excuse or justify the crime, through failing to establish a defense 
  • The offender acted under strong provocation 
  • The offender has no history of delinquency or criminal activity 
  • The offender has led a law-abiding life for a substantial period before the commission of the crime 
  • The offender is likely to respond affirmatively to probation or short-term imprisonment 
  • The character and attitudes of the person indicate that the person is unlikely to commit another crime  
  • The offender has made or will make restitution to the victim of the crime for injury, damage, or loss sustained 
  • Imprisonment of the person will result in undue hardship to the person or the dependents of the person 
  • The offender was convicted of a crime involving the use of force against a person who had repeatedly inflicted physical or sexual abuse upon them 
  • The offender was convicted of a crime relating to a controlled substance and the person’s arrest or prosecution was facilitated in part because they requested medical assistance or acted in concert with another person who requested medical assistance 
  • The person has PTSD, TBI, or a post-concussive brain injury 
  • The person committed the offense while the person was a child but is now at least 21 years of age 

The Impact of Felony Convictions 

Regardless of which felony level in Indiana a person is convicted of, the ramifications of their actions will extend far beyond the immediate penalties of imprisonment and fines. Individuals convicted of a felony face long-term consequences that can significantly impact their lives.  

Employment Challenges: Many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with a felony record, making it difficult for ex-offenders to find stable employment. 

Civil Rights: In some cases, felony convictions can lead to temporary or permanent loss of voting rights, affecting an individual’s ability to participate in democratic processes. In addition, those convicted of a felony in Indiana lose their ability to possess and carry a firearm in Indiana; and if caught in violation of this law, they could be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.  

Housing and Financial Difficulties: Securing housing can be challenging, as some landlords may not rent to individuals with a criminal history. On top of that, financial service providers may be hesitant to provide much needed loans to those convicted of a felony. That means obtaining the funds required to purchase a car or home may be more challenging.  

Loss of Professional Licenses: A felony conviction could pose a huge threat to a professional license in Indiana. Depending on the circumstances, a person convicted of a felony may have their license denied, revoked, or suspended.  

Social Stigma: Convicted felons often face societal stigma, which can affect personal relationships and community integration. This is especially true for those required to register as an Indiana sex offender.  

Felony Expungement in Indiana 

While the collateral consequences outlined above are harsh, they don’t have to last forever. Thanks to Indiana’s expungement laws, certain criminal records may be sealed and individuals may be able to move forward in life without the added burden of a felony conviction.  

Felony expungement in Indiana is only available to eligible offenders. However, those eligible may file a petition for expungement after a certain period of time has passed since the date of their conviction or since the conclusion of their sentence. If granted, the offender would have their civil rights restored, including their ability to carry a firearm (under most circumstances), and would no longer need to say “yes,” when asked if they have ever been convicted of a felony offense. On top of that, records that have been expunged and sealed are generally not available to the public; and records that are not able to be sealed must clearly be marked “expunged.”  

The process of requesting expungement is cumbersome and full of nuance; and individuals may only file for expungement once. Therefore, it’s vital that anyone who hopes to expunge their record in Indiana seek the assistance of an Indiana expungement attorney. This will ensure that the petition is drafted and filed in a compliant manner, covering as much of the offender’s criminal history as possible. 

Keffer Hirschauer LLP: Your Indiana Criminal Defense Attorneys 

Facing felony charges in Indiana is a complex and intimidating process, but it’s not a process that individuals have to face alone. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you enlist the services of the best Indiana criminal defense lawyer possible. This will provide the accused with expert legal knowledge required to secure the optimal outcome in the case against them.  

Keffer Hirschauer LLP was founded by two former deputy prosecutors,  Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, who have deep experience in criminal defense and know both sides of the criminal justice system. They routinely work throughout the state, and understand court culture in almost every county in Indiana.  

On top of that, our firm takes a team-based approach to each case we choose to work. This means that a defense attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP will have the resources needed to thoroughly investigate the case at hand, consult with experts, and see the case through from beginning to end.  

Questions about the Different Felony Levels in Indiana? 

If you have questions about the various felony levels in Indiana or have been charged with a felony and need legal assistance, do not hesitate to contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.  

Our Indianapolis-based criminal defense lawyers are available to help you understand the severity of criminal charges and how the criminal justice process works in Indiana. Ultimately, if you choose to have our firm represent you, you can rest assured our team will work tirelessly to build a defense strategy aimed at obtaining the best possible outcome in the case against you – whether that be a reduction of charges, minimized penalties, a not-guilty verdict or a dismissal of the case altogether. 

Article Name
Understanding the Felony Levels in Indiana
This article provides an overview of the felony levels in Indiana
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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