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As the new year approaches, many people might wonder if there are new criminal laws taking effect in 2023. Indiana criminal law does not have any 2023 updates. There is nothing new that will affect the average person that will become law in Indiana in 2023. If you are concerned about updates to Indiana criminal law in 2023, it is likely that you either were accused of a crime or think a crime has been committed against you. If you require criminal defense, you should consult with an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney right away. This is not the type of issue that will go away on its own. Read on to find out more about Indiana criminal defense laws in 2023.
Indiana Criminal Law
For the purposes of this article, Indiana criminal defense law can be presented in two primary groups, OWI and general criminal defense. You need to consult with a criminal law attorney for a complete evaluation of your situation.
OWI in Indiana in 2023
In order to be convicted of an OWI in Indiana in 2023, you need to have been found either intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, both legal and prescription. Many people get pulled over for driving while under the influence of prescription drugs, so remember to read the labels carefully and avoid taking the medication before driving to work or school. People under the influence of alcohol are, by far, the most pulled over in the state of Indiana, though. For a full in-depth article on Indiana OWI/DUI laws, please read our article, Indiana DUI Law Updates.
What Happens If I Get Pulled Over?
If you are pulled over in Indiana, and you have been drinking and driving, one of the things that are going to happen is that the officer is going to ask if you have been drinking, then perhaps have you perform a field sobriety test. After the field sobriety test (which is performed to gather evidence about your condition), the police officer will ask you to submit to blood alcohol testing, which will be the final nail in the coffin of your conviction. If you show a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more (.04 for commercial drivers), you will be convicted of OWI in Indiana.
Refusing a BAC Test
If you refuse to take the blood alcohol content test, the state will automatically revoke your driver’s license for two years. If you are convicted of operating while intoxicated, the state will also suspend your license for two years, can sentence you to prison for up to one year, and impose up to $5,000 in fines.
Naturally, the penalties for repeat offenders are more severe, with prison sentences, fines, and duration of revocation climbing with each offense conviction. The penalties will also increase if you damage property or endanger others with an OWI. For instance, if you are pulled over for OWI in Indiana, and there is a minor in your car, the penalty can be severe. The penalties will increase if you crash into another car or someone’s home.
Misdemeanors and Felonies in Indiana 2023:
Misdemeanors are the “less serious” category of crimes with less severe penalties. Common misdemeanors include shoplifting, writing bad checks, battery, selling marijuana, and the lower levels of OWI.
Misdemeanors seem like they may be pretty harmless but commit them often enough, and you can suffer severe penalties. Misdemeanors are divided into classes, with Class A misdemeanors being considered the “most severe” and Class B in the middle, with Class C misdemeanors being the least severe, with the least severe punishments.
How Serious is a Misdemeanor?
It can be misleading to think that a misdemeanor is a less serious crime simply because if you are convicted, it is a matter of public record (that other people can see if they choose to look). If you get a second conviction, the first conviction will be there for the court to look at.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, the punishment is divided into classes as well:
Class A is 0-1 year in jail and up to $5000 in fines
Class B is up to 180 days in jail and up to $1000 in fines
Class C is up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines
Felonies are the more severe crimes with the most severe punishments. Indiana has six classes or levels of felonies with a separate category for murder. Some examples of felonies are sex crimes, criminal OWI, drug trafficking, theft, and battery.
Depending on the severity of the felony, the severity of the punishment increases. Just like with misdemeanors, the severity of the crime will increase. Here is a breakdown of the punishments for Indiana felony convictions:
Level 1 felony – you can be sentenced to 20-40 years in prison
Level 2 felony – you can be sentenced to 10-30 years in prison
Level 3 felony – you can be sentenced to 3-16 years in prison
Level 4 felony – you can be sentenced to 2-12 years in prison
Level 5 felony – you can be sentenced to 1-6 years in prison
Level 6 felony -- you can be sentenced to 6 months to 2.5 years in prison
Not only do felonies carry more severe penalties, but you can have multiple convictions, where you are convicted for more than one felony at a time. For instance, if you are convicted of kidnapping and murder at the same hearing, the felonies can combine.
There is a lesser category of a criminal conviction in Indiana known as an “infraction,” which is when you violate an ordinance or a statute. An example of an infraction is a speeding ticket. If you get an infraction, you are not going to jail, and there may be only a minimum monetary penalty.
What to do?
If you face any criminal charge, you need to have an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you. An attorney can work with the prosecutor to either get your offense dismissed (for example, lack of evidence), get a diversion (where you attend a class or perform community service), or get you a plea deal (you plead guilty to one crime in exchange for the dropping of a different charge). An experienced defense attorney will be able to evaluate your case and tell you honestly what your chances are and how you should proceed. If you are facing a criminal charge in Indiana and need help, feel free to call O’Flaherty Law; we would be happy to help you.
What to Expect From a Consultation
The purpose of a consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Consultations may carry a charge, depending on the facts of the matter and the area of law. The cost of your consultation, if any, is communicated to you by our intake team or the attorney.