Criminal Law

Harper & Harper is a small, dynamic and aggressive law firm providing representation of individuals throughout the State of Indiana.

Indiana criminal laws are meant to protect residents and punish offenders. The rate of violent crime rate in Indiana has been on the rise of late. In 2015, Indiana's violent crime rate was up 19 percent since 2010. The state ranked 20th in violent crime (Indianapolis ranked 10th among cities with more than 200,000).

Indiana's criminal justice system is played out in courthouses from Fort Wayne to Evansville. This article will help lay out how Indiana criminal laws are handled throughout the state.

Indiana Statute of Limitations

There is a time limit for when specific crimes can be prosecuted in Indiana. Every state defines its own statute of limitations for certain crimes. A statute of limitations sets a time limit for when particular crimes may be prosecuted. If that time limit expires, criminal charges may not be filed. Indiana's criminal statute of limitations are:

Indiana OWI Laws

Drunken driving offenses are called Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) in Indiana. OWI is an umbrella term for when a driver's ability to operate his or her vehicle is affected by any type of intoxicating substance, including alcohol, prescription medications, and drugs.

Alcoholic intoxication is the most common type for drivers. A driver is chemically tested by law enforcement if he or she is suspected of drunk driving. If the test shows a driver's blood-alcohol content (BAC) level as 0.08 percent or higher, he or she is illegally intoxicated while driving.

Refusing to take a chemical test in Indiana applies an automatic penalty of a two-year driver's license suspension. Failing a chemical test automatically applies a 180-day suspension on top of OWI penalties. The first OWI offense is penalized with up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in prison, and two years of license suspension. Penalties scale up greatly with repeat offenses, higher BAC levels, and aggravating conditions like if a minor passenger was present at the time.

Indiana Felonies and Misdemeanors

Indiana, like other states, defines and classifies crimes in its own way. This means that a crime that's a Class C felony in Raleigh, North Carolina may not be classified or penalized similarly in Indianapolis, Indiana. Like most other states, though, Indiana classifies crimes as either felonies or misdemeanors depending on their seriousness.

Misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies and include public intoxication and petty theft. There are three classes of misdemeanors with penalties ranging from fines of $500 up to $5,000 and jail sentences of up to one year.

Felonies are the most serious crimes. There are six classes of felonies plus a separate class for murder. Level 1 through 6 felonies can range from a fine up to 40 years in prison. Murder convictions can result in sentences from 45 to 65 years or life without parole. Those convicted of murder can also face the death penalty in Indiana.

Capital Punishment in Indiana

The death penalty is sentenced only with murder felonies in which the prosecution is able to prove, at minimum, one of the 17 aggravating circumstances outlined in the Indiana Code section 35-50-2-9. The death penalty is carried out by execution using lethal injection.

Contact an Indiana Criminal Defense Attorney

Anyone facing criminal charges in Indiana has the right to mount a vigorous defense. A qualified Indiana criminal defense attorney familiar with local criminal procedures and laws can be a crucial advocate.

Make sure you talk with an attorney about your case and your needs before hiring one. Most criminal defense lawyers should be able to handle any misdemeanor or low-level crime. Not all attorneys are qualified to handle serious charges.

A qualified criminal defense attorney could mean the difference between going to jail and going free.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

This is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.


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Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should I call an Attorney?

    As soon as you become aware that the police (or some other investigating agency) are looking for or investigating you, or if you believe that you may have committed a crime. A lawyer can intervene with the police and either prevent an arrest or, if you are going to be arrested, arrange for your surrender at a time and in a manner that minimizes embarrassment to you or your family. Hiring a lawyer may also protect you from being questioned by the police.

  • If I am innocent, why do I need an attorney?

    Innocent people do get accused of committing crimes. Also, people who may have committed one crime often get accused (sometimes wrongfully) of committing additional, and more serious crimes. As the accused, you have a constitutional right to counsel. You are always better off having a lawyer learn about the accusation, discuss it with you, and develop a strategy for responding to the charge.

  • What should I do if I am arrested?

    First, be polite and cooperative. Arguing, struggling or fighting will never make the situation better. Rarely, if ever, will a person be able to convince an officer to stop an arrest. Finally, call a lawyer as soon as possible.

  • How much will it cost to hire an attorney?

    The cost of defending against criminal charges will vary depending upon the charges, the facts of the case, and other factors. We usually charge a single fee for the entire case. On a rare and exceptional occasion we will set a separate fee for different stages of the case. We provide a free initial consultation so that we can asses your case and establish a reasonable fee. Do not be reluctant to ask specific questions of any lawyer with whom you meet. The lawyer works for you and should be open to any reasonable inquiries that you may have.

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