Criminal Charges

One question people who are accused of a criminal charge always ask is “What could happen to me if I am found guilty?”? The answer is often complicated, and best answered as part of a comprehensive analysis of your case and your situation. And we encourage you to do that, so please call us for a consultation on the charges against you.


But for information purposes, the statues outline maximum penalties for criminal offenses broken down by category.

Penalties For Criminal Offenses in Indiana

Under Indiana law, criminal offenses are categorized as either misdemeanor or felony offenses. Misdemeanor offenses have a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in jail. Felony offenses are more serious, and can result in significant prison times. Some felony charges have mandatory minimum sentences.

Indiana Misdemeanor Charge – Penalties

Misdemeanors are the least serious type of criminal offense under Indiana law. Misdemeanors are classified into 3 classes, with Class A being the most serious and Class C being the least.

Class A Misdemeanors Up to 1 year in jail Fines reaching $5,000
Class B Misdemeanors Up to 180 days in jail Fines reaching $1,000
Class C Misdemeanors Up to 60 days in jail Fines reaching $500

Ref: IC 35-50-3-1

Indiana Felonies Charges – Penalties

Far more serious than misdemeanors, felonies are punishable by terms in the state prison system and hefty fines. Judges also have more leeway in sentencing for felonies. Felonies are split into 5 classes with murder getting its own classification. Each class of felony is given a range of years for potential imprisonment.

Class D Felony 6 months- 3 years in prison
Class C Felony 2-8 years in prison
Class B Felony 6-20 years in prison
Class A Felony 20-50 years in prison
Murder 45 years in prison- life, or death penalty

You may also be sentenced to fines reaching $10,000 if convicted of any felony charge.

Ref: IC 35-50-2

What Factors Can Effect a Criminal Sentence in Indiana?

Indiana Sentencing

After you plead guilty or are convicted, you wait for sentencing. In some misdemeanor cases, the judge will impose a sentence that same day. However, usually sentencing will be set for a later date in order to ensure the judge is making the sentencing decision with plenty of information.

While there are several things the judge will take into consideration when determining your sentence, the law is probably the first thing that is looked at. The offense you are convicted of has a lot to do with the penalty you will face.

Aggravating/ Mitigating Circumstances

When the law dictates a range for the offense you are convicted of, the judge takes a few things into consideration when determining where within the range to sentence you. Circumstances that affect your sentence are referred to as mitigating factors and aggravating factors.

Mitigating factors are those that work in your benefit, causing the judge to consider a more lenient sentence. For instance, if you acted with someone in the commission of the crime and you were not the principle (or primary actor) you may receive a lighter sentence.

Aggravating factors are ones that have the potential to increase your sentence. If your crime was particularly heinous, involved a weapon or drugs, or if you have an extensive criminal history, the judge will be swayed to sentence you to a harsher punishment.

Pre-Sentence Investigation

One of the ways that the judge will learn about you and the potential mitigating and aggravating factors in your case is through the pre-sentence report. This report is completed by a probation officer prior to your sentencing date.

The investigating probation officer will gather information about you and your offense and present it to the judge for consideration. The information may consist of any or all of the following:

  • Family history
  • Psychological evaluation or history
  • Connections in the community
  • Employment history
  • Criminal history
  • Victim statements
  • Circumstances of the offense

In addition to this, one of the most important aspects of the presentence report is a sentencing recommendation from the investigating officer. While the judge does not have to follow this recommendation, it can carry a lot of weight.

The investigating officer uses her experience to determine if you would be a good candidate for community supervision (probation). Because of her experience supervising offenders within the community, the judge will consider the recommendation and possibly follow it.

Get Some Free Legal Advice on Any Criminal Charge in Indiana You Are Facing

Facing any criminal sentence is frightening. A good defense attorney can be critical in increasing your chances of getting probation, and can help you get a more positive result when it’s time for sentencing. Find out what we can do to help you out of this jam by calling us for a free case evaluation today.

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