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Indiana Law on Child Molestation (2024 Update)

The Indiana law on child molestation is clear: this is a very serious crime that, under certain circumstances, is punishable by up to 40 years in prison per allegation. Per Indiana Code 35-42-4-3, child molestation occurs when an individual knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14 years old; or performs or submits to any fondling or touching, of either the child or the older person, with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the older person. Furthermore, the state’s law on child molestation state that a person can also be convicted of attempted child molesting of an individual at least fourteen (14) years of age if the person believed the individual to be a child under fourteen (14) years of age at the time the person attempted to commit the offense. 

If you’ve been charged with or accused of child molestation in Indiana, it’s imperative that you speak with an Indiana sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible. Most of the Indianapolis criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are former deputy prosecutors who possess a broad understanding of Indiana criminal law. Given this, we can better anticipate how the prosecution may approach your case and can provide you with a stronger chance of securing the most optimal outcome. If you’d like to speak with one of our Indiana sex crime attorneys today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at  317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation.   

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

Indiana Law on Child Molestation and Related Crimes 

As stated above, the specific Indiana law on child molestation is contained in Indiana Code 35-42-4-3. This law states that child molestation in Indiana occurs when an individual knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14 years old, commits a Level 3 felony. However, this charge can be elevated to a Level 1 felony under several circumstances, including:  

  • The crime was committed by a person at least twenty-one (21) years of age 
  • The crime was committed by using or threatening the use of deadly force or while armed with a deadly weapon 
  • The crime resulted in serious bodily injury 
  • The commission of the offense is facilitated by furnishing the victim, without the victim’s knowledge, with a drug or a controlled substance or knowing that the victim was furnished with the drug or controlled substance without the victim’s knowledge 
  • The crime resulted in the transmission of a serious sexually transmitted disease and the person knew that the person was infected with the disease 

In addition to the offense above, a person may commit a Level 4 felony offense of molestation if they, with a child under the of 14, perform or submit to any fondling or touching, of either the child or the older person, with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the older person. Once again, this charge can be elevated to Level 2 felony if the crime was committed using or threatening deadly force; committed while armed with a deadly weapon; or the crime resulted in the transmission of a serious sexually transmitted disease and the person knew that the person was infected with the disease. 

Finally, a person may be convicted of attempted child molesting of an individual at least fourteen (14) years of age if the person believed the individual to be a child under fourteen (14) years of age at the time the person attempted to commit the offense. 

Crimes Related to Sexual Molestation in Indiana 

Although there are clear Indiana law on child molestation, there are two other offenses that are quite similar: child solicitation and sexual misconduct with a minor. Per Indiana Code 35-42-4-6, the offense of child solicitation occurs when an individual who is 18 years of age or older “commands, authorizes, urges, incites, requests, or advises a child under 14 years of age to engage in sexual intercourse, other sexual conduct, or any fondling or touching intended to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the older person. In Indiana, this offense is a Level 5 felony. However, the charge can be elevated to a Level 4 felony if the alleged offender solicits the child (or a person they believe to be a child under 14 years of age) by using a computer network and travels to meet the child (or person they believe to be a child) or the offender has a previous unrelated conviction for an offense of child solicitation. Furthermore, the same laws apply to alleged offenders who are 21 years of age or older and solicit a child who is at least 14 years old but younger than 16 years old.  

Another closely related offense is sexual misconduct with a minor in Indiana. As stated in Indiana Code 35-42-4-9, when an adult, over the age of 18, knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16, they commit sexual misconduct with a minor. Additionally, an adult over the age of 18, who knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to any kind of fondling or touching with a child less than 16, with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or themself, also commits sexual misconduct with a minor. Both offenses described are considered a Level 6 felony. However, these charges can be elevated if certain circumstances exist. For example, if the offender is older than 21, a conviction would result in a Level 4 felony; and if the crime was committed using or threatening deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or by providing the victim with a controlled substance without their knowledge, one would face charges of a Level 1 felony in Indiana.   

Statute of Limitations for Child Molestation in Indiana 

Unlike many other crimes, there is no statute of limitations for child molestation in Indiana. This means that there is no time limit for prosecutors to file criminal charges against an alleged offender. Prior to 2019, the statute of limitations for child molestation was five years after the victim turned 18 or within five years of the commission of the offense, whichever was later. However, the passing of House Bill 1004 eliminated the statute of limitations for child molestation cases, allowing victims more time to process their trauma and the ability to come forward at any time to report their abuse and seek justice. 

 Jail Time for Child Molestation in Indiana 

In accordance with the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, a person convicted of breaking the Indiana law on child molestation could face between 2-40 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, depending on the nature of the crime and the number of molestation offenses that occurred. For example, a person who has only been convicted of performing or submitting to any fondling or touching a child under the age of 14, would face the criminal penalties associated with a Level 4 felony. In Indiana, Level 4 felonies have a sentencing range of 2-12 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 6 years. However, a person who has only been convicted of performing or submitting to any fondling or touching a child under the age of 14 while armed with a deadly weapon would face the criminal penalties associated with a Level 1 felony, which has a sentencing range of 20-40 years in prison and an advisory sentence of 30 years.  

Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, for the purposes of charges related to Child Molestation in Indiana

Furthermore, it’s important to understand that in Indiana, an offender can face more than one charged with more than one count of child molestation. Take, for instance, Sorgdrager v. State of Indiana. In this case, the offender was charged with one count of Level 1 Felony child molestation for an act of “other sexual conduct” and one count of Level 4 Felony child molestation for “fondling and touching.” As a result, the offender was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the first count, as a credit restricted felon, and to consecutive term of six years for the second count. 

Collateral Consequences of Being a Registered Sex Offender in Indiana 

Given the Indiana Law on molestation, those convicted of this crime will need to register as one or more of the several types of sex offenders in Indiana. As most people already know, being a registered sex offender can have serious collateral consequences that can impact many areas of a person’s life. Some of the collateral consequences of being a registered sex offender in Indiana include: 

  • Housing Restrictions: Registered sex offenders in Indiana are often subject to residency restrictions, which can limit where they can live. In some cases, sex offenders may not be allowed to live near schools, parks, or other areas where children are likely to be present. 
  • Employment Restrictions: Many employers conduct background checks, and being listed on the sex offender registry can make it difficult to find employment or keep a job. Some jobs, such as those working with children, may be off-limits to registered sex offenders. 
  • Travel Restrictions: Registered sex offenders may be restricted from traveling to certain areas, including foreign countries. 
  • Loss of Civil Rights: In Indiana, convicted felons are not allowed to vote, own firearms, run for public office, or serve on a jury. Furthermore, unlike most other felons, the Indiana expungement law prohibits sex offenders from expunging their criminal records. This means the loss of their civil rights is permanent.  
  • Loss of Parental Rights: Registered sex offenders may be subject to restrictions on their parental rights, including limitations on custody or visitation with their own children. 
  • Public Shame and Stigma: Being on the sex offender registry can lead to public shame and stigma, which can make it difficult for registered sex offenders to integrate back into their communities and lead normal lives. 

It is important to note that each case is unique, and the specific collateral consequences of being a registered sex offender in Indiana can vary depending on the nature of the offense and the terms of the offender’s sentence. Given this, registered sex offenders in Indiana should consult with an experienced Indiana sex crimes attorney to understand their legal rights and obligations, and to explore options for reducing or eliminating the collateral consequences of their conviction. 

Charged Under the Indiana Law on Child Molestation? 

If you have been accused of or already charged under the Indiana law on child molestation, it’s vital that you contact an experienced, aggressive Indiana sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible. Without one, you risk facing some of the most serious criminal penalties possible. To take action now, contact the Indiana sex crime lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our Indianapolis attorneys will do everything it takes to secure the best results for you – whether that is a dismissal or reduction of charges, or a not guilty verdict. We will provide you with high-quality, dedicated criminal defense and stand by your side, from initial consultation to investigation, trial and criminal appeal.  

To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney today call 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation.  

Summary
Indiana Law on Child Molestation
Article Name
Indiana Law on Child Molestation
Description
This article addresses the Indiana law on child molestation, related offenses, penalties for child molestation in Indiana and collateral consequences.
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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