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Indianapolis Felony Lawyer

Major felony charges are the kind of charges that truly change your life. If you’re convicted, the penalties and consequences will affect you for years to come, and likely for the remainder of your life. Even an arrest for a major felony can lead to being seen differently by your friends, family, co-workers, and other people you know. A major felony charge can cost you everything, unless you obtain help from an experienced Indianapolis felony lawyer to fight the charge.

If you are convicted of a major felony crime in Indiana, you face serious consequences that include:

  • A lengthy prison sentence, possibly up to life in prison
  • The possibility of the death penalty in the case of a murder charge
  • Significant fines
  • A permanent felony record that likely will make it harder to find work or a place to live
  • Possible requirement to register as a violent offender
  • Suspension, revocation or denial of a professional license to work as a doctor, lawyer, nurse, pharmacist, teacher, or other licensed professional
  • Denial or revocation or your immigration visa or green card, denial of a citizenship application, or deportation if you’re not a U.S. citizen

Types of Major Felony Crimes

There aren’t many crimes in Indiana that are classified as major felonies, but the ones that include strict penalties if you’re convicted. This is a list of some of the crimes most often thought of as major felonies, although that category also could include some drug and sex offenses we describe on other pages.

Murder

Murder is the most serious criminal offense you can commit in Indiana and carries the harshest penalties — including the possibility of the death sentence. Indiana Code Section 35-42-1-1 describes the crime of murder as:

  • Knowingly or intentionally killing another person
  • Killing another person while committing or attempting to commit certain other high-level felony crimes
  • Killing another person while committing certain drug dealing offenses
  • Knowingly or intentionally killing a viable fetus

Unlike other states, Indiana doesn’t divide murder into degrees based on intent or premeditation, as you might have seen on TV. In Indiana, there is only one murder offense, and it is its own class of felony for purposes of punishment.

The punishment for a murder conviction in Indiana is a fixed prison term of 45 to 65 years and a fine of up to $10,000. A person convicted of murder who is 18 or older may be sentenced to life in prison without parole or to death, depending on the circumstances of the crime. A person convicted of murder who was 16 to 18 at the time of the offense can be sentenced to life in prison without parole, but not to death.

Because of the extreme penalties for a murder conviction, if you are facing a murder charge in Indiana, it’s critical that you seek help from an experienced Indianapolis felony lawyer who knows how to handle these kinds of very serious felony cases. A lawyer can start representing you as soon as you know you’re being investigated — and it may benefit you to have a lawyer as early as possible in the investigation to protect your rights as police gather evidence against you and prosecutors proceed with charges.

Voluntary Manslaughter

By definition, voluntary manslaughter is similar to murder. The offense involves knowingly and intentionally killing another person or a viable fetus, but adds the element of “acting under sudden heat.” Voluntary manslaughter is the classic crime of passion, such as reaching for a gun and shooting a spouse when you find them in bed with another lover and you’re overcome by rage.

The penalties for voluntary manslaughter may vary depending on whether the offense was committed using a deadly weapon, and whether the offense was committed before or after July 1, 2014, when new felony classes and penalties went into effect in Indiana.

  • Before July 1, 2014 — Voluntary manslaughter is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when committed without the use of a deadly weapon. When committed with the use of a deadly weapon, voluntary manslaughter is a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • After July 1, 2014 — Voluntary manslaughter is a Level 2 felony regardless of whether a deadly weapon was used to commit the offense. The penalties upon conviction include 10 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Indiana defines involuntary manslaughter as killing another person or a viable fetus while committing or attempting to commit battery, or a lower-level felony or Class A misdemeanor offense that poses a risk of serious physical injury. There is no requirement that you intended to kill for a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

The penalties for involuntary manslaughter vary depending on whether the manslaughter was committed using a vehicle or was the result of recklessness by a childcare provider, and whether the offense was committed before or after July 1, 2014, when new felony classes and penalties went into effect in Indiana.

  • Before July 1, 2014 — Involuntary manslaughter is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. When the offense was committed using a vehicle or was the result of recklessness or reckless supervision by a childcare provider, it’s a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • After July 1, 2014 — Involuntary manslaughter is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, regardless of whether a vehicle was used or the manslaughter resulted from recklessness or reckless supervision by a childcare provider.

Kidnapping

Indiana defines kidnapping as knowingly or intentionally removing a person by fraud, enticement, force, or threat of force from one place to another:

  • When you intend to ask for ransom for the person
  • When you hijack a vehicle
  • When you intend to help a prisoner escape or obtain the prisoner’s release
  • When you intend to use the person as a hostage or shield

Before July 1, 2014, kidnapping is one of the most serious felony crimes in Indiana short of murder. If committed before that date, kidnapping is a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

After July 1, 2014, when the criminal code was amended and new felony classes and penalties went into effect, the penalties for kidnapping became more complex, and kidnapping can be a less serious felony under some circumstances. Kidnapping formerly included the act of confining a person, but was redefined as knowingly or intentionally removing a person by fraud, enticement, force, or threat of force from one place to another, and the type of intentions described in the prior statute now affect the felony classification and penalties.

The new system of felony classification and penalties for kidnapping is:

  • Level 6 Felony — The basic offense of kidnapping is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Level 5 Felony — Kidnapping is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the person kidnapped is under age 14 and is not your child, it’s committed using a vehicle, or it results in physical injury to the person other than removing the person
  • Level 3 Felony — Kidnapping is a Level 3 felony punishable by 3 to 16 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when committed while armed with a deadly weapon, results in serious physical injury, or is committed on an aircraft.
  • Level 2 Felony — Kidnapping is a Level 2 felony punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when committed with the intent to demand ransom, while hijacking a vehicle, with the intent to obtain the release or escape of a prisoner, or with the intent to use the person as a hostage or shield.

Burglary and Robbery

The offense of burglary involves breaking and entering a building or structure that belongs to someone else, with the intent to commit a felony. Burglary often is associated with theft, but you could be suspected of intending another type of felony altogether and be charged with burglary. For example, if you are suspected of breaking and entering someone’s residence with the intent to commit a rape, you could be charged with burglary in Indiana.

The penalties for burglary vary depending on how the burglary was committed, whether it resulted in physical injury and whether it was committed before or after July 1, 2014, when a new system of felony classifications and penalties went into effect in Indiana.

If committed before July 1, 2014, burglary is a:

  • Class C Felony — The basic offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Class B Felony — Burglary is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when committed while armed with a deadly weapon, or the building or structure is a dwelling or a place of worship.
  • Class A Felony — Burglary is a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when it results in physical injury or serious physical injury.

If committed after July 1, 2014, burglary is:

  • Level 5 Felony — The basic offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, and the statute adds the intent to commit a felony or a theft.
  • Level 4 Felony — Burglary is a Level 4 felony punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the building or structure is a dwelling.
  • Level 3 Felony — Burglary is a Level 3 felony punishable by 3 to 16 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when it results in physical injury to another person.
  • Level 2 Felony — Burglary is a Level 2 felony punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when committed while armed with a deadly weapon or it results in serious physical harm to another person.
  • Level 1 Felony — Burglary is a Level 1 felony punishable by 20 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the building or structure is a dwelling and it results in serious physical injury to another person.

Robbery involves knowingly or intentionally taking property from someone else or from their presence through the use or threat of force, or by causing fear. Walking into a convenience store and telling the cashier that you have a gun and to hand over all of the cash in the register is an example of an action that could be charged as robbery.

If committed before July 1, 2014, robbery is:

  • Class C Felony — The basic offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Class B Felony — Robbery is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if committed while armed with a deadly weapon or it results in physical injury to another person.
  • Class A Felony — Robbery is a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when it results in serious physical injury to another person.

If committed after July 1, 2014, robbery is:

  • Level 5 Felony — The basic offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Level 3 Felony — Robbery is a Level 3 felony punishable by 3 to 16 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if committed while armed with a deadly weapon or it results in physical injury to another person.
  • Level 2 Felony — Robbery is a Level 2 felony punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when it results in serious physical injury to another person.

If you or a family member is facing burglary or robbery charges, more information about burglary and robbery offenses, possible penalties, and possible defenses in Indiana is available when you contact us.

Your Experienced Indianapolis Felony Lawyer Can Help

At Hessler Law, we have experience working on major felony cases both on the prosecution side and the defense side, and we understand how terrifying it can be to face such a charge. As an Indianapolis criminal defense firm, we know the prosecutors, judges, and courtrooms where your case will be heard, and have a thorough understanding of the process involved in major felony cases.

We can be with you every step of the way, from the moment you know you’re under investigation, to the time your case goes to trial. Our goal is to protect your rights, preserve your future, and get you the best possible outcome for your case.

This website is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.