One of the main factors that determines what type of sentence you are going to face is the classification of the charge. Understanding a few basic points about these classifications can help you as you are facing criminal charges.
Misdemeanor versus felony
Criminal charges are broken down into two broad categories — misdemeanor and felony. Misdemeanor charges are less serious than felonies. Typically, a misdemeanor is associated with either no incarceration or incarceration in county jail. Felony charges are associated with incarceration in state prison. However, it is sometimes possible to avoid this if a judge places you on probation instead of sentencing you to incarceration.
Breakdown of felony charges
Felony charges are broken down into levels. Murder is its own level. Other felonies range from Level 1 through Level 6, with Level 1 being the most serious. The period of incarceration you are facing for a criminal conviction depends on the level assigned to the crime:
Murder: 45 to 65 years
–Level 1: 20 to 40 years
–Level 2: 10 to 30 years
–Level 3: 3 to 16 years
–Level 4: 2 to 12 years
–Level 5: 1 to 6 years
–Level 6: 6 months to 30 months
Pretrial diversions and suspended sentences
Indiana laws provide only limited availability of pretrial diversion programs and suspended sentences. Pretrial diversions are only available to people who are facing misdemeanor charges, Level 6 felonies or Level 5 misdemeanors.
Suspended sentences are only possible for portions of the sentence that are in excess of the minimum of the sentence range. For example, a suspended sentence for a Level 1 felony is only possible once the person serves 20 years. Other requirements exist for certain types of charges, including those for habitual offenders.
Enhancements are possible
Some felony charges in Indiana have enhancements that are possible. For example, the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime has an enhancement of five to 20 years. All enhancements increase the penalties for a crime, so these must be considered carefully when you are evaluating the possible penalties that you are going to face in connection with a criminal act.