If you have been arrested for weapons or gun charges in Indiana, one of the first considerations to cross your mind will be the punishment you face for a conviction. Though viewed as being rather permissive on gun control than other U.S. states, Indiana’s statutes on weapons and instruments of violence are still extremely strict and impose harsh sanctions for violations of the law. Plus, there are other factors that can impact your penalties, and a judge has some discretion when handing down a sentence.
Still, assessing punishment for weapons-related offenses is slightly premature. An arrest does not equal a conviction, and there are multiple chances to fight the allegations throughout the legal process. You can take the best advantage of these opportunities by retaining a weapons charges lawyer in Evansville who can review your circumstances and develop a solid legal strategy. An overview of the penalties will help you realize the importance of a strong defense.
State firearm and weapons statutes generally focus on two factors when defining conduct that violates the law: The status or specifics regarding the individual, and the activity related to the weapon. Some of the most common gun crimes charged in Indiana include:
There are also statutes that apply to other weapons, such as explosives and knives. For instance, it is illegal to possess a knife with a detachable blade that can be ejected from the handle by means of a propellant or spring mechanism. Also, you should note that Indiana has a “catch-all” statute under which officials may make arrests.
Criminal recklessness is any type of conduct that puts another person at risk of harm, so you could be charged with this offense when the underlying circumstances do not place your case squarely within another state law on weapons.
Lower level offenses, such as brandishing an unloaded gun, might be charged as a Class A Misdemeanor. For a conviction, you face up to a year of incarceration, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both. However, most gun crimes in Indiana are felonies, so they work according to the system of levels established by state law.
Keep in mind that the penalties for weapons charges in Indiana include an advisory sentence, basically, a guideline that the court can consider when issuing a sentence. Most advisory sentences fall somewhere in the middle of the incarceration term range: 6, 3, and 1 year for Levels 4, 5, and 6 respectively. From there, a judge can go up or down when levying punishment. The court is allowed to consider aggravating circumstances, such as:
Of course, a judge may also consider mitigating circumstances. Your advisory sentence for weapons charges could be on the lower end if you did not cause severe damage or injury, were provoked or had an excuse – even if not a full defense.
With these penalties in mind, you can see that it is critical to take every opportunity to fight the allegations. The first task at hand for your weapons charges lawyer in Evansville will be contesting the prosecutor’s case-in-chief. Always remember that the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high standard. By exposing weaknesses in the evidence and cross-examining witnesses, your attorney can create questions in the minds of the jury.
In addition, you might also have defenses when it is your turn to present evidence. Examples include self-defense, unlawful search and seizure, and having the proper license. Even before the trial date, you may be able to work out a plea bargain with the prosecutor. In exchange for pleading guilty, you could face lesser charges and/or a reduced prison sentence. Plus, for Level 6 Felony charges, it may be possible to drop the offense to a Class A Misdemeanor. Not only are the penalties less severe, but you may qualify to have the record expunged.
This summary is useful for explaining the penalties for violating Indiana firearm and weapons laws, but there are many additional details that you should entrust to experienced legal counsel. At Thomas Law, our team is dedicated to fighting for your rights and achieving a favorable outcome in your case, so please call us at 812-492-1900 today. We can schedule a free consultation with a weapons charges lawyer in Evansville, who can evaluate your circumstances and get started on a legal strategy.