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The Impact of Violence on Criminal Sentences in Indiana

In Indiana, the use of violence during the commission of a crime significantly affects the potential punishment a convicted offender might face. Courts are empowered to consider various “aggravating circumstances” when determining the appropriate sentence. One of these is whether the offense was a crime of violence.

The term “crime of violence” has a distinct meaning under the Indiana Code (IC) as it concerns sentencing. It includes the following crimes:

  • Murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Reckless homicide
  • Battery (as level 2 through 5 felonies)
  • Domestic battery (as level 2 through 5 felonies)
  • Aggravated battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Child molesting
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor (as level 1 or 2 felonies)
  • Child exploitation (as level 4 or 5 felonies)
  • Robbery (as level 2 or 3 felonies)
  • Burglary (as level 1 through 4 felonies)
  • Strangulation (as a level 5 felony)
  • Resisting law enforcement (as a felony)

Certain strict liability crimes can also be crimes of violence, such as operating a vehicle while intoxicated and causing serious bodily injury, catastrophic injury or death.

When a court determines a defendant’s punishment, it considers both aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Aggravating circumstances include the degree of harm, injury, loss or damage suffered by the victim. The use of violence can cause harm in excess of what must be proved to establish the underlying crime. In addition, violence can be an aggravating circumstance if the defendant knowingly committed the offense in the presence or hearing of an individual who was less than eighteen (18) years of age and was not the victim of the offense.

The mitigating circumstances a court considers can include any of the following:

  • The crime neither caused nor threatened serious harm to persons or property.
  • The victim of the crime induced or facilitated the offense.
  • There are substantial grounds tending to excuse or justify the crime.
  • The defendant acted under strong provocation.
  • The defendant has no history of delinquency or criminal activity.
  • The defendant is likely to respond affirmatively to probation or short term imprisonment.
  • The character and attitudes of the defendant indicate they are unlikely to commit another crime.
  • The defendant has made or will make restitution to the victim for the injury, damage or loss sustained.
  • Imprisonment will result in undue hardship to the defendant or their dependents.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help build a strong strategy designed to highlight mitigating circumstances and to minimizes the impact of aggravating circumstances like the alleged use of violence.

If you face criminal charges in northern Indiana, The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey in Fort Wayne is ready to provide cost-effective representation. For a free consultation, please contact us online or call us at 260-222-7364.

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