March 19, 2021 | Criminal Law
Like most states, Indiana categorizes serious crimes into felony levels based on the severity of the offense. Indiana uses these categories to determine the consequences for the crimes within each category.
Under the current criminal code, the least serious felonies fall into the Level 6 designation, and as a result, courts impose the lightest sentences for a felony 6 in Indiana.
Here are some things you should know about the consequences of a conviction for a level 6 felony in Indiana, along with the reasons that you should consider a plea to a felony 6 if prosecutors have charged you with a higher-level offense.
What Are the Indiana Felony Levels?
Indiana revised its categories in 2014. Before 2014, Indiana had five categories: Classes A, B, C, and D felonies, plus a category for murder.
In 2014, Indiana created a system with seven categories: Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 felonies, plus a category for murder.
These new levels correspond to the old classes as follows:
- Murder = Murder
- Level 1 felony = Class A felony
- Level 2 felony represents a new category
- Level 3 felony = Class B felony
- Level 4 felony represents a new category
- Level 5 felony = Class C felony
- Level 6 felony = Class D felony
These changes benefit criminal defendants in most cases. Many of the maximum sentences were reduced, and some crimes were recategorized into new groups with shorter sentences and lower fines.
What is a Level 6 Felony?
A felony 6 is the lowest category of felony and is charged for:
- Battery, depending on the circumstances
- Domestic violence, depending on the circumstances
- Hazing that results in serious injury
- Criminal recklessness that resulted in a serious injury or involved a deadly weapon
- Some forms of kidnapping and custodial interference
- Possession of child pornography
- Sexual battery
- Some forms of arson
- Computer hacking
- Breaking and entering
- Theft of property worth between $750 and $50,000
- Fraud, forgery, and counterfeiting
- Identity theft
- Resisting arrest
- Illegal gambling
- Dealing or manufacturing illegal drugs (although the type of drug and the amount could lead to charges of a higher-level felony)
- Drug possession, including cocaine, narcotics, and methamphetamine
These are just a few examples of Level 6 offenses. Indiana has many other criminal offenses that prosecutors can charge as a Level 6 felony.
Penalties for a Level 6 Felony
A sentencing court can impose incarceration and a fine upon conviction of a Level 6 felony. The jail sentence can range from six months to two-and-a-half years. The court can also fine the offender up to $10,000.
A court cannot remand someone who is sentenced for a Level 6 felony to prison. Instead, the offender will serve the sentence in county jail.
Sentencing for a Level 6 Felony
When imposing a sentence, the judge has the discretion to choose a term that falls anywhere in the sentencing range. In an ordinary felony case, the judge can consider a presentence investigation report. A probation officer prepares this report to determine the offender’s risk of re-offense.
But Indiana law does not require a judge to obtain a presentence investigation report for offenders that are convicted of a Level 6 felony. Instead, the judge can choose a sentence based on the evidence in the case and any victim statements.
Non-Judicial Consequences of a Level 6 Felony
Even though the Level 6 category only includes the least serious felonies, a Level 6 felony conviction will impact your daily life.
Some of the non-judicial consequences of any felony conviction include:
Trouble with Employment
Indiana requires some employers to conduct a criminal background check and to use that check to eliminate some job candidates from consideration.
Some jobs that felons cannot hold:
- Police officer
- Commercial truck driver
- Indiana government worker
- Daycare worker
- Nurse or EMT
- Bank worker
- Security guard
Also, some positions require licensing, including lawyers, building contractors, doctors, and other professionals. Licensing boards might not grant a license if you have a criminal history.
Difficulty Obtaining a Residence
Most landlords conduct background checks on prospective tenants before leasing homes and apartments. Landlords can refuse to rent to tenants who have a recent felony.
If your charges included a sex crime, Indiana law might require you to register as a sex offender. Registration can create restrictions on where you can live and work.
If you apply for a personal loan or a business loan, your prospective lender might require you to disclose your criminal history. If your criminal background check includes felonies, the lender might decline to lend you money.
Benefits of a Level 6 Felony Conviction
While it may seem odd to say that you can benefit from a Level 6 felony conviction, Indiana law gives offenders convicted of Level 6 felonies certain benefits that are unavailable to offenders convicted of higher-level offenses.
Some of these benefits include:
Suspension of Sentence
A judge can suspend a part or all of your sentence for a Level 6 felony conviction. When a judge suspends your sentence, they place you on probation. You do not need to report to jail if you meet all of your probation conditions.
Conversion of a Level 6 Felony to a Misdemeanor
A judge can reduce a Level 6 felony to a misdemeanor after you complete your sentence. Your charges must not include sex or violent offenses to receive a conversion, and you must stay out of trouble for three years.
A conversion can significantly improve your life. Many of the restrictions on felons do not apply to misdemeanors. People that are convicted of a Level 5 felony in Indiana or higher-level felonies do not have this right.
Expungement of a Level 6 Felony
People convicted of a Level 6 felony can petition for expungement of the conviction by staying out of trouble for eight years. When the court grants a petition to expunge the record, the conviction will no longer appear on a criminal background check.
Pleading to a Level 6 Felony
Because of the substantial benefits of a Level 6 felony compared to higher-level felonies, speak to your lawyer about negotiating a plea to reduce the level of your charges. While a Level 6 felony can cause short-term problems, these problems can be solved over time. On the other hand, a conviction for a Level 4 felony in Indiana or other higher-level felonies can haunt you forever.