If you are convicted of a felony in Indiana, the sentence imposed depends in part on the level or severity the felony offense. The Indiana Legislature revised the felony levels in 2014. As a result, sentencing courts must consider the date the crime was committed to determine which Indiana felony levels sentencing structure to use.
What Are the Different Indiana Felony Levels?
A felony sentence is first determined by when the felony occurred: was it before or after July 1, 2014? The Indiana felony classes before July 1, 2014 are listed below. If the felony occurred before July 1, 2014, the total sentence would be between the minimum number of years and the maximum number of years for the designated class of felony, as shown below.
|Class A felony
|Class B felony
|Class C felony
|Class D felony
In 2014, the legislature revised the Indiana felony levels.
If the felony occurred on or after July 1, 2014, the total sentence will be between the minimum number of years and the maximum number of years for the designated felony level, as shown below.
|Level 1 felony
|Level 1 felony –
|Level 2 felony
|Level 3 felony
|Level 4 felony
|Level 5 felony
|Level 6 felony
Do I Have to Serve All of Those Years in Prison?
No, “total sentence” does not mean it will all be prison time. The total sentence is just the amount of time the court imposes. The court can use that total time in a variety of ways. Some of this time could be prison, or it could be time in work release, home detention, or on probation.
The total sentence may be divided into an executed sentence and a suspended sentence. An executed sentence is not what you might be thinking. An executed sentence is time served in the Indiana Department of Correction. But again, not all time served in the Department of Correction is prison time. An executed sentence can be served as a direct commitment to a community corrections program. What that means is you could be sentenced to the Department of Correction but actually serve that sentence in work release or on home detention.
Work release is like prison except you can leave to go to work. Home detention is what it sounds like except you can go to work, or church, or the grocery store as long as you have permission from the court or the community corrections program.
The part of the total sentence that is not the executed sentence is called the suspended sentence. A suspended sentence is time that you could have to serve if you violate a condition of the sentence. For most felonies, the court could suspend the entire sentence, i.e. order no time in prison. For the most serious felonies, murder or Level 1 through 3 felonies, the court can only suspend the portion of the sentence that is in excess of the minimum sentence.
Typically, a person will be on probation or parole during the full length of his or her suspended sentence. If that person violates a condition, the court could order the defendant to serve all or a part of the suspended sentence as an executed sentence.
What Does Advisory Mean under the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines for Felonies?
The advisory sentence is the court’s starting point. The average person who committed a run-of-the-mill version of the felony that the court is now imposing the sentence on should receive an advisory sentence as the total sentence. The prosecutor will argue aggravating factors that could increase the sentence. The defense attorney will argue mitigating factors that could decrease the sentence. All things being equal, the total sentence should be an advisory sentence.
How do the Indiana Felony Levels Apply If There Were Multiple Charges?
If the court is imposing a sentence on more than one charge, the court can decide whether the sentences for each charge should be served consecutively (one after the other) or concurrently (at the same time). If one charge was committed while you were serving a sentence for another charge or if you committed the offense after being released on your own recognizance or on a bond on another charge, then the court has to impose consecutive sentences.
If you were charged with multiple felonies that all happened at the time, it is likely that the court would have to sentence them all concurrently.
What About Credit Time?
If you were sentenced for a felony that occurred before July 1, 2014, you earn one credit day for every actual day you serve of your executed, but not your suspended, sentence, unless you violated a rule or are a credit restricted felon.
If you were sentenced for a crime that occurred on or after July 1, 2014, and your offense is a Level 6 felony, you earn one credit day for every actual day you serve of your executed, but not your suspended, sentence unless you violated a rule or are a credit restricted felon.
If you were sentenced for any other felony that occurred on or after July 1, 2014, then you earn one credit day for every three days you serve of your executed, but not your suspended, sentence unless you violated a rule and or are a credit restricted felon.
If you are found to have violated a rule, then you could lose credit time or earn it a slower rate.
You can also earn credit time for completing certain courses, but only if you are in an eligible credit class and if your sentence is not for certain crimes like a sex offense, kidnapping, or stalking. The credit time cannot be more than the lesser of two years or one-third of your total credit time.
If you earn a high school equivalency diploma (formerly general education development or GED) and had not previously obtained a high school diploma, a substances abuse program, a literacy and basic life skills program, or a reformative program, you can earn up to six months of credit time.
If you complete a high school diploma and had not previously obtained a GED diploma, an associate degree, or a career and technical or vocational education program, you can earn up to one year of credit time.
If you complete a bachelor’s degree, you can earn up to two years of credit time.
What If I Have Other Questions about Indiana Felony Levels or Criminal Defense Matters?
If you want to know more about Indiana felony levels, contact criminal defense attorney Matthew R. Kestian, a former prosecutor and experienced attorney who has tried more than 25 jury trials and countless bench trials across Indiana. You can reach him at Camden & Meridew, P.C. by completing the online contact form or by phone at 317-770-0000.