First Time Offender Attorneys
Working with the Right Attorney is Critical for a First Time Offender
Are you a first time offender? It is not uncommon for otherwise law-abiding citizens to be charged for a crime due to a momentary lapse in judgement. While facing a first criminal charge can be intimidating for the accused, being a first time offender can be used in your favor. Skilled criminal defense counsel can demonstrate to the court how the lack of criminal history and other relevant factors about the accused warrant a lesser sentence or even dismissing the charges.
At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, our trusted and skilled Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys realize that not every case is about proving innocence but, rather, can be about the challenges, integrity, and remorse of the accused. In these cases, we petition the court on the client’s behalf to ensure the client is given every consideration deserved under our criminal justice system.
Being charged with a criminal offense is serious even if you have no previous criminal record. A criminal record can affect every facet of your life—your job opportunities, housing, right to own and carry a gun, voting rights, and many more. Finding the right Indiana criminal defense lawyers to help you navigate your case is vital to concluding your case with the best possible outcome. You’ll find those criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
With years of experience as prosecutors and defense attorneys, our criminal defense team has the depth of experience to guide a first time offender through all stages of a criminal case. We explain to clients the charge or charges and the potential sentencing consequences in each case, and we get to know our clients so we can develop options for mitigating the consequences. We also use our knowledge of criminal law and court culture to develop the optimal defense strategies for your case, character, and circumstances.
Sentencing for a First Time Offender
In general, a first time offender is subject to the same sentencing consequences for a criminal conviction as an offender with a lengthy criminal history, although the first time offender can argue for a lighter sentence based on the lack of criminal history. The Indiana Code’s criminal law statutes define the consequences for conviction for a criminal offense. These sentencing guidelines establish sentencing ranges based on the severity of the offense. As expected, the more serious the offense, the longer the sentence.
Indiana Code chapter 35-50-2 sets out the recommended sentencing range for felonies, although special sentencing ranges apply to certain offenses:
- For murder, imprisonment for 45 years to 65 years with an advisory (or recommended) sentence of 55 years and a fine of up to $10,000
- For Level 1 felonies, imprisonment for 20 to 40 years with an advisory sentence of 30 years and a fine of up to $10,000
- For Level 2 felonies, imprisonment for 10 to 30 years with an advisory sentence of 17.5 years and a fine of up to $10,000
- For Level 3 felonies, imprisonment for three to 16 years with an advisory sentence of nine years and a fine of up to $10,000
- For Level 4 felonies, imprisonment for two to 12 years with an advisory sentence of six years and a fine of up to $10,000
- For Level 5 felonies, imprisonment for one to six years with an advisory sentence of three years and a fine of up to $10,000
- For Level 6 felonies, imprisonment for six months to two and a half years with an advisory sentence of one year and a fine of up to $10,000
Indiana Code chapter 35-50-3 sets out the recommended sentencing range for misdemeanors:
- For Class A misdemeanors, imprisonment for not more than one year and a fine of up to $5,000
- For Class B misdemeanors, imprisonment for not more than 180 days and a fine of up to $1,000
- For Class C misdemeanors, imprisonment for not more than 60 days and a fine of up to $500
In addition to incarceration and fines, a sentence can also include a term of probation following completion of the sentence, an order to perform community service, or a term served in a community correction program. Alternatively, the court may order suspended sentence.
Understanding the sentence that could be imposed in the event of a conviction can help you determine your best defense options. Sometimes an attorney can successfully argue for a reduction of the charge for a first time offense to a lower level offense, which, in turn, would likely reduce the potential sentence the court could impose. The experienced Indiana criminal defense attorneys like those at Keffer Hirschauer LLP know the criminal code and court culture well enough to wield such defense tactics effectively.
Indiana Diversion Programs: Another Sentencing Option
In some misdemeanor and low-level felony cases, the accused may be eligible for Indiana diversion programs or conditional discharge programs. These programs allow the accused to plead guilty to a crime but avoid significant penalties, such as incarceration, by completing a state-run education program. If you successfully complete one of these programs, your case could even be dismissed.
Pretrial diversion or conditional discharge programs are usually associated with alcohol and controlled-substance-related offenses. Courts often use these sentencing alternatives because they recognize that addiction and lack of awareness may have played a factor in the accused’s perpetration of the offense. But other low-level offenses may also quality for these programs.
Offenses that may make the accused eligible for a diversion program include:
- Public intoxication
- Possession of marijuana
- Illegal consumption of an alcoholic beverage
- Illegal possession of an alcoholic beverage
- Shoplifting or Petty Theft
- Driving While Suspended
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Trespass
Unfortunately, in most Indiana counties, DUI cases are not eligible for the pre-trial diversion program.
For more information on these programs and how our firm can help petition for your eligibility, contact our proven litigators at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today.
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What Are Special Considerations?
In cases where there is a first time offender who is willing to enter a diversion program or plead guilty to the offense charged or a reduced offense, the court may be willing to hear specific arguments against substantial penalties. By pleading guilty, the accused is saving the court the time and resources needed for a trial, acknowledging wrongdoing, and demonstrating a willingness to submit to a penalty of some kind.
Indiana Code § 35-38-1-7.1 sets out factors the court may consider as bases for imposing a lower sentence within the statutory range. Experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyers know how to identify and artfully argue the strongest factors in favor of a lesser sentence. Some common mitigating factors include:
- The accused has no criminal history
- The accused has genuine remorse for the crime
- The accused committed the offense under duress or strong provocation
- The accused committed the offense against someone who had perpetrated physical or sexual abuse on the accused and there is evidence that the accused suffered from the effects of such battery
- The accused is unlikely to reoffend because the circumstances resulting the crime are unlikely to recur
- The victim encouraged or caused the offense
- There are substantial bases to justify the offense
- The accused is likely to respond positively to the least restrictive punishment
- The accused has paid or will pay for the damage or injury caused by the offense
- The accused has a brain injury or condition
- No victims were physically harmed
- The accused was compelled to participate as an accessory
- Others (such as spouses, children, etc.) are dependent on the accused
These elements, when properly put forth by experienced defense counsel, can help secure minimal penalties for the accused.
Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys to Help First Time Offenders
No decision is more critical for a first time offender than choosing the right attorney from the vast number of Indiana criminal defense lawyers. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, our criminal defense team has decades of experience honing our litigation skills so that we can bring the best arguments forward for our clients. When you work with an attorney from our firm, you benefit from the entire firm’s experience, which includes former deputy prosecutors and former deputy attorney general as well as the following:
- Former Fatal Alcohol Crash Team leader
- Former Marion County DUI Prosecution Unit
- Superior Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Attorney recognition by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense
- Indiana Bar Foundation Fellow
- Indianapolis Bar Foundation Distinguished Fellow
- American Bar Foundation Fellow
- LawInfo Lead Counsel Rated
- Two-time Indianapolis Bar Association Director’s Award Recipient
- National Trial Lawyers Association Top 40 Under 40
- Chairman of the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum’s Traffic Law Program
Don’t leave the fate of your criminal case to chance. Whether you are searching for Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys or counsel elsewhere in the state, our experienced attorneys can help. Put our years of experience to work for you. To learn more about how the Indiana criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP might influence your first time offender case, call us today for a free consultation at (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact form.