Image of handcuffs on prison bars, representing Camden & Meridew’s ability to defend against an Indiana common nuisance charge.

Defense for a Common Nuisance Charge in Indiana

As outlined under Indiana Code § 35-45-1-5, a person who maintains or visits a structure (including a building or vehicle) where certain unlawful activity occurs may face a common nuisance charge in Indiana. Such activity includes the unlawful sale, use, manufacture, and possession of alcohol, drugs, and drug paraphernalia, as well as activities related to human trafficking.

Individuals who visit or maintain a common nuisance in Indiana can be charged with a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or, under some circumstances, a Level 6 felony, which, as outlined under Indiana Code § 35-50-2-7, can result in up to 2 and one-half years in prison.

If you are concerned about or currently facing these charges in Indiana, contact an Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer, like Josiah J. Swinney at Camden & Meridew, P.C., to protect your rights and discuss options for your defense.

What Is a Common Nuisance Charge in Indiana?

In Indiana, a common nuisance is defined as a building, vehicle, or other structure or location used for certain illegal activities. Examined broadly, various locations could be deemed a common nuisance, including but not limited to homes, garages, boats, cars, rental properties, and hotels.

Maintaining or visiting a property that is used for the following purposes can result in an Indiana common nuisance charge:

  • To sell alcohol without a permit;
  • To unlawfully use, store, or sell a prescription drug;
  • To manufacture, store, use, deliver, or finance delivery of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia; or
  • To engage in human trafficking.

Visiting vs. Maintaining a Common Nuisance in Indiana

Under Indiana law, maintaining a common nuisance is when an individual knowingly maintains a structure used for the purposes previously listed. This is different from a charge of visiting a common nuisance in Indiana, which only requires that a person is intentionally or knowingly present at such a facility.

Visiting a common nuisance in Indiana is a Class B misdemeanor when the site is used for alcohol and drug violations. Visiting a common nuisance that is used for human trafficking activity is a Class A misdemeanor, as is intentionally taking a minor or endangered adult to a location used for unlawful activities related to controlled substances or drug paraphernalia.

If you have a previous conviction for taking an endangered adult or a child under the age of 18 to a location used for unlawful drug activity and are alleged to have committed this offense again, you can be charged with a Level 6 felony.

Maintaining a common nuisance is a Level 6 felony in all cases. All of these charges can seriously impact your life and freedom. Even if you are not convicted, the accusations can damage your reputation and follow you for years to come. An Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer can provide aggressive representation to dispute or minimize the charges against you.

Is an Indiana Common Nuisance Charge Different from Disorderly Conduct?

Because of the word “nuisance,” many people confuse common nuisance charges with disorderly conduct. While both are classified under Indiana law as “offenses against public health, order, and decency,” they are very distinct crimes.

Maintaining a common nuisance in Indiana involves allowing illegal activities such as drug use or the selling of drugs to occur in or on a property you maintain. Visiting these locations is also illegal under Indiana law.

Disorderly conduct, while also not legal, tends to focus more on how someone acts in a public space. These kinds of offenses usually involve fighting, causing too much noise, or purposely disrupting a public assembly of people. While these kinds of actions can be escalated and lead to more serious charges, most disorderly conduct charges are considered a Class B misdemeanor which means you face a maximum of 180 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and one year of probation.


Penalties for an Indiana Common Nuisance Charge

The penalties for maintaining and visiting a common nuisance in the state of Indiana can vary depending on the activity taking place at the location in question, in addition to other related circumstances, as described earlier in this blog.

A Class B misdemeanor in Indiana can result in a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and as much as $1,000 in fines.

If the charge is bumped up to a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties include up to a $5,000 fine and as long as one year in jail.

If the offense is classified as a Level 6 felony, you could be facing up to 2 and one-half years in prison and fines of as much as $10,000.

Defenses for Indiana Common Nuisance Charges

An Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer can review the evidence in your case and determine the best path forward for your defense. Generally speaking, however, some common defenses may apply in these cases:

The Location Was Not Primarily or Repeatedly Used for Unlawful Acts

To be charged with visiting or maintaining a common nuisance, the location in question must meet the definition of a common nuisance under Indiana law. The burden of proving the charges against you lies on the prosecution. If your attorney can cast doubt that the location in question qualifies as a common nuisance, the charges against you may be dropped.

The Substance and Quantity Do Not Merit a Common Nuisance Charge

Indiana’s common nuisance law states that it is a valid defense if the site in question was used for activities related to marijuana, hash oil, hashish, salvia, or paraphernalia used with these substances. This defense requires that the amount of marijuana in question is less than 30 grams. The amount of hash oil, hashish, or salvia allowed under this defense is five grams.

You Did Not Act “Knowingly or Intentionally”

Indiana’s common nuisance law requires that a person charged with visiting or maintaining a common nuisance acted “knowingly or intentionally.” Again, the burden of proving this is on the prosecution. If your attorney can show that you were unaware of the activities taking place at the site, the charges against you could be dismissed. If knowledge or intent are in question, your attorney might also use this to negotiate for lesser charges against you.

Facing a Common Nuisance Charge in Indiana? Contact Camden & Meridew, P.C.

If you are facing a common nuisance charge in Indiana, Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer Josiah J. Swinney will work to develop a strong defense to protect your best interests. Conveniently located in the Carmel-Fishers area of Hamilton County, Indiana, Camden & Meridew, P.C. is a law firm small enough to provide personalized representation, but large enough to support a strong defense. Call Josiah at 317-770-0000 or fill out this online contact form to schedule a consultation.