Indiana’s system for classifying criminal offenses closely aligns with laws at the federal level and many U.S. states in separating misdemeanor and felony crimes, according to severity. In general, felonies are more serious offenses that carry a potential sentence of more than a year or up to a life term in prison.
The three classifications of misdemeanors are lesser crimes, though the punishment can still be harsh. Under Indiana sentencing guidelines, a court may consider certain factors and surrounding circumstances that could make the penalties almost as severe as if you had committed a felony. Plus, there are the collateral consequences that impact your life after being convicted of any crime. Misdemeanors carry lasting ramifications that you may not expect.
If you have been arrested on misdemeanor charges, it is critical to consult with an experienced misdemeanor attorney in Indiana right away. Many people assume these cases are minor or are willing to accept a guilty plea, but there are strategies for defending the allegations. Some background information and an overview may help you understand the basics, and you might find it useful to know the penalties for a Class B misdemeanor in Indiana.
The types of offenses in the misdemeanor category are considered less serious because they are often crimes against property with nominal economic loss. Some drug offenses are misdemeanors when the criminal activity does not have a major impact on the public, such as possession of smaller amounts of controlled substances. Even some crimes against the person may be misdemeanors when the actual harm to the victim is minor.
The three levels of misdemeanor offenses are separated into classes based upon severity:
Class A Misdemeanor: There are numerous crimes falling into the most serious type of misdemeanor offense, such as:
● Carrying a firearm without a proper license
● Operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) when endangering a person or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in excess of .15 percent
● Prostitution and solicitation
● Resisting a law enforcement officer; and,
If convicted on these or other Class A Misdemeanor charges, you face up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.
Class B Misdemeanor: These offenses are less serious, so the sanctions for a conviction are not as severe. Penalties for a Class B Misdemeanor in Indiana may be up to 180 days in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both. Examples of this type of misdemeanor include:
● Criminal mischief
● Public intoxication
● Disorderly conduct; and,
Class C Misdemeanor: Even the least severe crime in the misdemeanor classification can carry substantial penalties if you are convicted. Some of the offenses charged as a Class C Misdemeanor are OWI with a BAC of .08 to .15 percent, indecent exposure, and public nudity. If convicted, a judge could order up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine up to $500.
In some misdemeanor cases, particularly where the defendant is a first-time offender, a judge may use discretion in ordering probation instead of jail time. For a Class A, B, or C Misdemeanor, the fixed period of probation cannot be longer than one year.
This scenario is termed a “suspended” sentence because the potential for incarceration or other sanctions still exists until the person completes the terms of probation. In other words, if the court grants a suspended sentence and you violate the conditions within the order, you may be sent to jail to complete the suspended portion.
The sanctions listed above are considered advisory, and a judge is allowed discretion in issuing a sentence that ranges up or down. The more extreme the surrounding circumstances, the more likely you will face a longer jail term and/or higher fines. For instance, the penalties for a Class B Misdemeanor in Indiana will be harsher if:
● You have a prior criminal conviction
● The victim was under 12 or over 65 years old
● The offense violates a protective order for domestic violence
● You engaged in a violent criminal offense in front of a child
● You threatened additional harm if the victim reported the crime
● The offense demonstrates bias against the victim because of personal traits or characteristics, i.e., the circumstances indicate a hate crime.
On the other side of the issue, mitigating circumstances could provide a benefit in your case when it comes to sentencing. A judge may be more lenient if there was no actual harm, the defendant was provoked, or the victim facilitated the offense. To ensure you properly leverage aggravating and mitigating circumstances, you will need assistance from a misdemeanor attorney in Indiana.
While much of the focus is on punishment imposed by a criminal court, you should also be aware of how a misdemeanor conviction affects your life after you serve your sentence. A conviction will show up on your criminal record, so your history will be considered if you are arrested in the future. The case will also be revealed in a background check and you may need to disclose it under certain circumstances. Collateral consequences of a misdemeanor conviction include:
● Difficulties with employment
● Revocation or suspension of a professional license
● Challenges obtaining financings, such as a mortgage, auto loan, line of credit, or student loan
● Implications for your parental rights related to child custody and visitation; and,
● Many more
This overview is helpful in describing the penalties for a Class B misdemeanor, but there are numerous stages along the timeline of a criminal case before you get to punishment. Throughout the proceedings, there are opportunities to defend your interests and other strategies for obtaining a favorable outcome.
It is a mistake to attempt to go it alone, so trust our team at Thomas Law for assistance. For more information, please call our Evansville, IN office at 812-492-1900 or contact us here to schedule a free, confidential consultation. Our Indiana misdemeanor defense lawyers can advise you on your rights after reviewing the details of your case.