Legal Blog

Indiana House to Consider Harsh Out of State Felony Laws

07 February 2018 | Criminal Defense,  Felony Charges,  

Attorney Sean Hessler

Written by
Sean Hessler

07 February 2018

Criminal Defense,  Felony Charges,  

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If convicted of a felony crime, you face years in prison, large fines, and other collateral consequences. In other words, your life will change permanently. Prosecutors in Indiana are known to aggressively seek convictions and harsh punishments for felonies. Recently, there has been some confusion regarding prior felony convictions from outside of Indiana. Different states classify felony charges differently, but a new law in Indiana is meant to clarify the process of inflicting harsh punishments for anyone facing charges in Indiana while also having prior out of state felonies on their record.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a felony, you will need a skilled felony attorney to defend your rights and keep you out of prison. Call Hessler Law at (317) 886-8800 to schedule a free case consultation today.

The New Bill Brings Clarity to Indiana Felony Sentencing with Out of State Priors

Indiana House Bill (HB) 1033 defines a Level 6 out of state felony as a conviction for which an individual would spend between one year and two and a half years. This further clarifies current law which defines an out of state felony as an offense resulting in a possible sentence of more than one year in prison. The result of the passage of HB 1033 will be that certain cases with prior out of state felonies on the defendant’s record will now allow for an Indiana felony conviction to also come with a habitual offender enhancement that can make the punishment more severe.

The recent case of Darryl Calvin illustrates how this new law will change felony sentencing. Calvin was arrested and found guilty in Indiana of Level 4 felony burglary in Indiana and faced an additional 10 years in prison due to two prior Illinois Class 1 felony burglaries in Illinois. Because of these priors, the jury labeled Calvin a habitual offender. It was argued that Calvin shouldn’t be subjected to the habitual offender sentencing enhancement since the law considered all out of state felonies as Level 6, and the enhancement could not be supported by only two prior Level 6 felonies. The Indiana Supreme Court agreed with Calvin, and the enhancement was dropped from his conviction.

Indiana’s new out of state felony laws would clarify that not all prior felony convictions from other states should be labeled as equivalents to Indiana Level 6 felony convictions. This update would make it harder for those convicted of felonies to avoid the harsh habitual offender punishment enhancement, and it would have made Calvin’s successful defense against that enhancement impossible.

Felony Sentencing Can Be Greatly Enhanced If You Have Prior Convictions

Even without the passage of new felony laws, Indiana still offers serious prison time to those convicted of a felony who have crimes already on their record. A habitual offender enhancement to a felony conviction can add up to 10 years in prison in addition to whatever you receive for your conviction. It’s important to note that being labeled a habitual offender does not mean that you’ve repeatedly been convicted of the same crime, but rather that you’ve been convicted of any other felonies in the past. Two details that generally must be shown for a habitual offender enhancement to be added to your felony conviction are:

  • You have been previously convicted of at least two other felonies that are unrelated to each other or your current conviction
  • At least one of your prior felonies is not a Level 6 felony or class D felony

A Felony Attorney Can Help You

It’s easy for anyone to be overwhelmed if they are charged with a serious crime. If you find yourself facing felony charges, you will need experienced legal counsel to clear your name and prevent a conviction from showing up on your record. Your felony attorney will need as much time as possible to prepare a successful defense in your case, so do not hesitate to contact us today if you are in this difficult situation.

To speak with an experienced felony attorney about your case, contact us today at (317) 886-8800.