Felony, Infractions, and Misdemeanors in Indiana
In Indiana, criminal offenses are broadly divided into three. This division is done based on the type of crime committed, the amount of damages incurred and the seriousness of the crime. Felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions are the three groups of crimes, as classified by the Department of Justice, Indiana. Felonies are the most serious of all the three crimes and as such, they attract the most intense penalties, jail sentences and may even result to death sentence if it’s a murder case. A misdemeanor is next in order of intensity, although it is less serious than a felony. Last on the list is an infraction that is mostly not considered a criminal act but a mere violation that is punishable by the law. It is the least serious of all the three and attracts the least penalties. Summarily, Indiana state crimes are tried on the basis of the aforementioned classification
What is a Felony in Indiana?
A felony in Indiana is a criminal offense that attracts more than one year jail sentence. They are the most serious of all criminal offenses in Indiana. An offender that is convicted of a felony is referred to as a felon. Felonies are punishable by a jail term of at least one year and a maximum of 65 years imprisonment and maybe even more, depending on the verdict of the court. The worst crime in Indiana is murder although it is an unclassified felony. It is mostly punishable by a long term imprisonment of between 45 and 65 years, which may also include the court imposing a fine of up to $10,000 on the defendant.
In some cases, murder may lead to a death penalty although under the Indiana Law and Proceduce, Code title 35 § 35–50–2–5 a death penalty can only be imposed on offenders who were above the age of 18 when their crimes were committed, and also individuals who do not have any mental issues. Felonies in Indiana differ in terms of severity. Simply put, all felonies do not carry the same weight as some are more serious than others. Before 2014, felonies in Indiana were established as Class A-D with Class A being the most serious and Class D being the least serious. However, since 2014, felonies in Indiana have been grouped into six groups (Level 1–6) including murder which is an unclassified felony and is punishable with 45–65 years imprisonment or death. In order of severity, categories of felonies in Indiana include;
- Level 1 felony: 20 to 40 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Level 2 felony: 10 to 30 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Level 3 felony: 3 to 16 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Level 4 felony: 2 to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Level 5 felony: 1 to six years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000
- Level 6 felony: May be considered a misdemeanor, in which case 6 months imprisonment may apply. If considered a felony, up to 2.5 years imprisonment may apply and a fine of up to $10,000.
The penalties summarized above may also be accompanied with either therapy, probation, or electronic monitoring depending on the verdict of the court.
What are some examples of felonies in Indiana?
In Indiana, felonies are classified into six groups (Level 1–6). This classification is done in order of severity. Examples of felonies in Indiana include:
- Level 1 felony: Rape by deadly violence or with the use of a weapon.
- Level 2 felony: Voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, first-degree burglary with a firearm.
- Level 3 felony: Robbery, fraud, aggravated battery and assault.
- Level 4 felony: Arson, misconduct with a deadly weapon.
- Level 5 felony: Involuntary manslaughter.
- Level 6 felony: Vehicle theft, aggravated DUI.
Murder is also an example of a felony in Indiana except that it is unclassified so it doesn’t fall in any of the six categories.
Can I get a Felony Removed from a Court Record in Indiana?
Yes to a certain degree, a felony may be removed from a court record in Indiana. The process of removal is called expungement or sealing. According to chapter 35–38–9 of the Indiana Expungement Law, expungement is not accessible to violent offenders, human and sexual trafficking offenses, or sex crimes, persons convicted of official misconduct, and homicide offenses. In some cases, the fact that a felony is removed from court record may not mean that it is completely off limits, it may still be accessed by authorised persons. A defendant that is verified to be of good standing may appeal that his/her crime be removed from court records. However, such a person must have served all the penalties of the crime that was committed.
Depending on the type of records, not all records are eligible for expungement or sealing. After removal, some of the civil rights of the defendant may be restored. Records of serious felony convictions tend to remain public even after expungement. In July 2013, the Indiana Second Chance Law was passed, this allows eligible ex-convicts to have their crimes expunged from records. An individual that passes any of these conditions may have his/her their records expunged.
- Defendant has not committed two or more felonies involving a deadly weapon.
- Defendant did not commit a destructive crime or a sex offense.
- Defendant does not have pending charges.
- Defendant has completed all penalties.
- Defendant has spent five years since conviction.
- Defendant does not have any new convictions on their record.
Is expungement the same as sealing court records in Indiana?
No, expungement is not the same as sealing records in Indiana. Expungement is the process of dismissing all charges laid against an ex-convict and totally removing their offense from records. The expungement statute states that a person whose record is expunged shall be treated as if they had never been convicted of the offense. The law, IC–35–38–9–10(b) also prohibits any form of discrimination against an ex-convict whose offense has been expunged. Sealing of records on the other hand, is similar to expungement but it applies to individuals who were arrested but not convicted. They are permitted to file a petition to seal the records pertaining to their arrest a year after the date of the arrest.
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in Indiana?
In Indiana a felony remains in records for as long as the individual tarries in appealing for expungement. Even if it’s several years since the crime, the individual’s crime record may still appear in records if he/she doesn’t appeal for expungement. However, there are cases where the court dismisses the crime on it’s own discretion. Depending on the felony committed, after 3–5 years since the completion of the terms of conviction, a person may apply for an expungement.
What are Misdemeanors in Indiana?
Misdemeanors in Indiana are criminal offenses that are punishable by up to one year in prison and pay a fine of up to $5,000. They are less severe than felonies and for this reason, they attract lesser penalties compared to felonies. Misdemeanors vary in terms of severity. This implies that there are some misdemeanor crimes that are similar to felonies such as battery and theft. On the other hand, there are misdemeanor crimes that are minor and may not even attract incarceration. The Indiana criminal code determines the severity of the penalty that will be meted out to a misdemeanor offender.
In Indiana, misdemeanors are classified based on the extent of damage or loss that the victim of the crime suffered and the circumstances that surround the crime. Generally, misdemeanors are enforced by the local and state police in Indiana and are processed in the district court. They often involve crimes against the public, where only minimal injury is incurred. Indiana classifies misdemeanors into three major groups. In order of severity, they include;
- Class A misdemeanors—Punishable with up to $5,000 fine and 1 year in jail
- Class B misdemeanors—Punishable with up to $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail
- Class C misdemeanors—Punishable with up to $500 fine and 60 days in jail.
What are Examples of Misdemeanors in Indiana?
In Indiana misdemeanors are categorised into three major groups which include; Class A misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors, and Class C misdemeanors.
Examples of Class A Misdemeanors in Indiana include;
- Carrying a firearm without a license
- Resisting law enforcement
- Battery with bodily injury
- Domestic battery and assault
- Medical Fraud
Examples of Class B Misdemeanors in Indiana include;
- Public intoxication
- Reckless driving
- Non-physical assault
- Criminal trespass in the second degree
- Threat of injury
Examples of Class C Misdemeanors in Indiana include;
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
- Public nudity
- Operating a Vehicle with a BAC of at least 0.08 but less than 0.15
- Indecent exposure
Can I Get a Misdemeanor Removed from a Record in Indiana?
Yes, a misdemeanor offense may be removed from a record in Indiana. The Indiana law authorizes the removal of some misdemeanor offenses from records if the defendant is eligible for a dismissal. However, such a person must have completed his/her prison term and other penalties. The defendant must also be verified to be of good conduct for a number of years since the completion of his/her prison term.
The good thing about expungement in Indiana is that the law forbids any form of discrimination against persons whose crime has been expunged from their criminal records especially. Hence, offenders whose crimes have been expunged can be treated as though they never committed the crime. Their civil rights will be restored and they can now enjoy the benefits of a law-abiding citizen such as; eligibility for employment, and qualification for certain academic programs. However, there are exceptions on expungements such as sex related offenses.
Can a DUI Record Be Expunged in Indiana?
Driving Under Influence (DUI) in Indiana is a serious offense, as such, it may only be expunged in a few cases where the offender meets certain requirements. Expungement is not permitted for a DUI conviction, only an arrest record or charge record may be expunged. In addition, not every DUI offender may have their crimes expunged from records especially if they have been convicted for the same crime on several occasions.
In most cases, DUI convicts are often penalised with legal repercussions like fines, probation, suspension of driver’s license and possibly a jail term. DUI offense may be expunged from criminal records if the offender is eligible to have his/her conviction set aside. A DUI misdemeanor offender may have to wait for five years before applying for expungement while a DUI felony would wait for a period of eight years.
What is an Infraction in Indiana?
An infraction in Indiana is mainly a civil offense that arises from the violation of civil laws. Infractions are minor offenses that may not be classified as a crime as opposed to other types of violations in Indiana such as felonies and misdemeanors. An infraction is the least type of crime in Indiana and it does not involve a jail term, although a civil fine may apply in most cases. It is also not treated like other crimes so a person that is guilty of an infraction may not be jailed, leveled with large fines, or have access to a court-appointed lawyer to defend their case. Law enforcement officers are charged with the responsibility of recognizing a violation and arresting the offender after which he/she will be charged to court.
What constitutes an Infraction in Indiana
In Indiana, an infraction involves the violation of a civil law. A good example is the violation of traffic laws like speeding beyond limits and not obeying a traffic control device. This form of violation may attract penalties such as fines, community service, or suspension of drivers license. An infraction does not require long court procedures during trial. When an infraction occurs, the offender will be arrested by a law enforcement officer and will be charged to court where hearings will take place at either the local city court or a state district court depending on where the infraction transpired. Common examples of infractions in Indiana are speeding and noise violations.
What are some examples of Infractions in Indiana?
An infraction is not a criminal offense, but instead, it is a civil violation or offense. Examples of infractions in Indiana include:
- Failure to wear a safety belt
- Noise violations
- Violating a traffic control device
- Speeding beyond limits
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Failing to use proper child restraints
- Making an illegal U-turn
- Harboring non-vaccinated dogs
- Minor in Possession of Tobacco
Can Infractions be Expunged from an Indiana Criminal Court Record?
No, in most cases, infractions may not be expunged from criminal court records. This is because infractions are not criminal offenses and as such, they are mostly not recorded as crimes. Infractions, being civil in nature, cannot be expunged under the statute. The law, however, provides an opportunity for case dismissals, for infractions like littering, noise violation, and other minor violations. Other traffic infractions are recorded on the offenders driving record. Only individuals that have paid their fines and completed assigned community service (if any) may be eligible for expungement, if the court authorizes it.