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Is criminal sentencing reform making an impact in Indiana?

The Indiana General Assembly passed a law in 2014 that permits courts to convert Class D felony convictions to Class A misdemeanors in certain circumstances. However, the application of those prerequisites to real life criminal cases may require some trial and error.

In a recent example, the Indiana Supreme Court heard oral argument on whether the new law could apply to guilty plea agreements, or only guilty verdicts. Since the former is akin to a binding contact between private parties, the prosecutors sought to limit the scope of the new law. Prosecutors also noted that the new legislation came out after the parties had executed their plea agreement.

While the nuances of the new law continue to be worked out, it is important to remember that real life stores are often the catalyst for such reforms. For those that question the need for additional sentencing reforms, consider the range of penalties that may result from a conviction for sex crimes, most of which are ineligible for relief under the new law. A Level 1 felony conviction for a sex crime could result in 20 to 40 years of incarceration and fines up to $10,000.

There are many variables that might explain why different sentences are handed out to criminal defendants who are otherwise similarly situated. If you are facing a sex crime, make sure you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. That is one variable that you cannot afford to shortchange. An attorney can fight to protect your reputation until the sex crime allegations are resolved by the legal system. If the matter proceeds to a criminal trial, we will work to prepare a strong defense and hold prosecutors to their evidentiary burdens.

Source: Indiana Lawyer, “Justices consider conversion of felony to misdemeanor after plea agreement,” Olivia Covington, Dec. 1, 2016

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