Indianapolis Criminal Defense Law Blog

When young love becomes a sex crime

While no one may bat an eye if a 20 year old and a 25 year old engage in consensual sexual activities in Indiana, the story is very different if the parties ages are ages 14 and 19. While the state has what is known as "Romeo and Juliet laws," allowing individuals ages 14 or 15 to have a consensual sexual relationship with someone up to four years older than them, once that four-year limit is breached, that sexual activity becomes a crime. This is known as statutory rape, and it does not matter at that point whether the teenager has consented or misrepresented his or her age, as, with regards to that age limit, the teenager is deemed incapable of consent.

If an individual between the ages of 18 to 20 engages in sexual activities with a 14 or 15-year-old, it is considered to be a level five felony, which means the person could face between one to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Moreover, if there are aggravating factors, the crime could be considered a level one felony, which means a person could face between 20 to 40 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Is it still a rite of passage if you wind up in jail?

If you were to survey all college graduates in Indiana to ask them what some of their most memorable moments were during their school years, many of them would likely include tales that have to do with parties. In fact, it's often the more social aspects of a college career that are remembered after graduation. At many schools, socializing on and off campus includes recreational drug and alcohol use. Some say school officials tend to turn blind eyes to binge drinking or marijuana smoking because it's typical behavior.

There are also issues regarding sororities and fraternities that participate in hazing activities; this is when strenuous, humiliating or daunting tasks (often including drugs or alcohol) are thrust upon those seeking membership as part of their initiation rites. Many readers may be following a current national news story about a group of college students in another state facing serious charges regarding the death of a fellow student after a supposed hazing episode.

Being accused of a white collar crime is a serious situation

Not every crime involves a violent affair. White collar crimes are taken just as seriously as violent crimes by prosecutors in Indiana. In fact, depending on the circumstances, a white collar crime might be punishable by both state law and federal law. Moreover, accusations of white collar crimes could tarnish a person's professional reputation leading to job loss and difficulties obtaining new employment.

There are many different white collar crimes. For example, fraud, such as wire fraud or computer fraud is a white collar crime. So is tax evasion and copyright infringement. Other examples of white collar crimes include money laundering, embezzlement, forgery and insider trading.

Senate considering new mandatory minimum sentences for drugs

Setting harsh drug sentences that judges couldn't reduce wasn't controversial in the 1980s, when the majority of mandatory minimum sentences were put in place. Today, however, we can see the results of the policy: jails and prisons nationwide are stuffed to capacity.

Not all of the growth in jail and prison populations is due to long sentences for drug offenders. Increasingly, local jails are being used to house pre-trial detainees, non-criminal immigrants and even federal inmates. In fact, a new report by the Prison Policy Initiative found that most of the growth in state and local incarceration isn't driven by the crime rate at all.

2 State AGs, SEC probe ExxonMobil statements on climate change

The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission, are investigating whether ExxonMobil has been misleading investors about the full costs and benefits of some of its oil and gas projects. The New York Attorney General has accused the company of making "materially false and misleading statements" in its reports to investors, which would be a violation of both state and federal law.

At issue in the New York probe is how the company accounts for the potential risks associated with climate change, which could have an impact in any number of areas. Exxon accounts for this risk by using an estimate called a "proxy value," which it inserts into cost-benefit analyses of projects like production of oil sands petroleum.

Federal judge rules Geek Squad collected evidence for FBI

When a man took his computer to Best Buy, he never expected to be federally prosecuted for child pornography. Apparently, the computer sales and repair chain has a policy of forwarding suspected child porn straight to the FBI. Luckily for him, a federal judge has suppressed that evidence.

Often, when third parties discover evidence, courts examine whether they were in cahoots with law enforcement. As you should know, the government is only allowed to perform searches and seizures that are objectively reasonable. When they step over the line, the evidence can be suppressed because the government isn't allowed to use evidence it obtained through unconstitutional actions.

Conviction not always the final word of the court

Life is full of surprises, not all of which are pleasant. If you're currently facing trouble with the law in Indiana, you likely agree with that statement. No matter what events transpired that landed you in your current situation, remembering that you always have rights and can maximize all options available to affect the outcome of your case toward your favor as much as possible may help alleviate some of the stress your circumstances have caused.

The criminal justice process is often complicated. Delays, postponements and other issues may extend the time it takes to fully adjudicate your situation. When you think back to events that unfolded that led to your arrest, it may seem like an entire lifetime ago. Since then, your circumstances probably negatively affected other areas of your life. If the court winds up handing down a conviction, your personal and professional life will change even more.

Fish & Wildlife send 50 agents with warrant for Indiana man's fish

David, a commercial fisherman from English, Indiana, was just served. On May 10, at least 50 federal agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service descended on his house in order to serve a warrant. The charge? Unlawfully opening one fish while not in a licensed facility.

"There was as many as you could possibly put on my stairway with assault rifles and down here on the ground pointing them at me."

Sessions reinstates harshest penalties for low-level drug charges

"It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense," wrote Attorney General Jeff Sessions in his latest policy memo. "This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us. By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory-minimum sentences."

Whether you agree with that or not, the reality is that Jeff Sessions has just doubled-down on the War on Drugs. The policy memo released Friday requires federal prosecutors to fully utilize the severest penalties available, even for those whose crimes are not objectively serious.

Economic analysis: Spending money on drug treatment reduces crime

It's emotionally satisfying to many people to feel that their lawmakers are "tough on crime." According to the New York Times' The Upshot blog, people are willing to pay 10 times their actual losses to prevent a second burglary -- and 100 times their losses to prevent a second armed robbery.

Yet the increasingly draconian War on Drugs has focused primarily on enforcement efforts, with very mixed results, according to The Upshot blog's analysis. On the other hand, drug treatment has a markedly positive impact on crime. According to an Emory University study, increasing the treatment rate by 10 percent reduces robbery and larceny rates by around 3 percent. The effect on the rate of aggravated assault is even more marked: that 10 percent increase in drug treatment brought aggravated assault down by between 4 and 9 percent.

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