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By Jeff Terrill
Fort Wayne Reader
It hasnít happened since 1977, a year when fewer than five thousand people were incarcerated in Indiana prisons. Today, Indiana prisons warehouse nearly thirty thousand people. Thatís close to a 600% increase in the prison population. Without reform, Indiana lawmakers knew the prison population would continue to grow.
An increase in prisoners creates the need for new prisons, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and maintain. So, thirty-seven years after the last criminal code revisions, Indiana will have a freshly revised set of criminal laws effective July 1, 2014. I thought Iíd mention below just a few of the changes.
In part, the new laws are intended to keep non-violent offenders and less serious offenders out of the prisons. The Class A, B, C and D felony categories will be replaced with levels 1 through 6. Level 6 offenses will be the least serious felonies with a punishment range from six months to two and one-half years in prison. Murder remains the most serious charge with the punishment ranging from 45 to 65 years in prison.
Class A felonies will now be split between level 1 and 2 felonies. A Class A felony carries a sentencing range from twenty to fifty years which will be identical to the level 1 sentencing range. A level 2 offense will range from ten to thirty years.
Under the current law, a Class B felony is punishable from six to twenty years. Starting in July, a level 3 offense will carry a sentence from three years up to twenty years in prison. A level four sentence will range from two to twelve years.
The more serious offenders will be required to serve 75% of their sentences. Under the current criminal code, offenders who behave in prison serve only one-half of their sentences.
A Class C felony is punishable from two to eight years under the current sentencing scheme. Starting in July, the Class C felony will be replaced with level 5, which has a one through six-year sentencing range.
For example, a person charged today in Indiana with dealing cocaine in an amount less than three grams would face a possible sentence from six years up to twenty years in prison. Under the new law, the maximum sentence for the same offense will be six years.
Prior to July 1, 2014, a person who steals an item valued from one cent to less than $100,000 commits theft, a Class D felony, punishable up to three years in prison. A theft involving a loss of $100,000 or more is a Class C felony and punishable up to eight years in prison under the current law.
Under the new law, a person who steals an item valued under $750 will commit theft as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable up to one year in the local jail. A theft resulting in a loss over $750 and less than $50,000 will be a level 6 offense. Any theft over $50,000 will be a level 5 offense punishable up to six years.
I will write about some of the other equally riveting criminal code revisions in the weeks to come.
Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.