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Published on January 22, 2024

What Constitutes a Level 6 Felony in Indiana?

A Level 6 felony is the least serious type of felony in the state of Indiana. A conviction of this crime can still have a negative impact on your life, as it will be reflected in your criminal record.

Felonies carry more serious penalties than misdemeanors and include prison sentences. However, judges have a great deal of leeway to reduce or alter the statutory maximum sentence.

Aggravating Circumstances

In Indiana, as in many other states, a criminal charge will be elevated to a felony when aggravating circumstances accompany the crime. These factors reflect a heightened degree of negligence or repeat offending and are taken more seriously by the state’s criminal justice system.

For example, driving under the influence of alcohol with minors in the vehicle elevates a DUI from a Level 5 felony to a Level 6 felony. This reflects the seriousness of causing harm to others while intoxicated and the state’s commitment to traffic safety. A Level 6 felony can also be elevated to a Level 5 if it is accompanied by serious bodily injury from an assault or burglary.

Additionally, a judge may be able to reduce a Level 6 felony conviction to a misdemeanor. This process, known as alternative misdemeanor sentencing (AMS), is available if the offender meets certain conditions and doesn’t have any other pending or prior felony convictions. Additionally, the offender cannot have sex or violent charges and must stay out of trouble for three years to receive this benefit.

Having a felony conviction on your record can have a major impact on your future, even though it’s considered the least severe of all felonies in Indiana. It can prevent you from finding employment and might cause problems when applying for housing or professional licenses. This is because most employers conduct background checks on applicants, and many licensing boards require that you do so as well.

The latitude that courts have in imposing sentences on offenders allows our firm to make a strong argument for reducing or suspending a sentence for a Level 6 felony. We understand how a conviction will affect your life, and we strive to have your case dismissed or reduced to minimize the consequences for you and your family.

Serious Bodily Injury

Generally speaking, Level 6 felonies in Indiana are considered the least serious felony offenses. However, even this lesser class of felony can still have significant consequences for offenders and their families. A conviction for this crime can result in jail time, fines, and a criminal record that could have lasting impacts on personal, professional, and educational opportunities.

In some cases, a battery charge is elevated to the level of a Level 6 felony when the touching results in moderate bodily injury to an alleged victim. This is a step up from the standard battery offense that only requires rude, insolent, or angry touching.

A resisting arrest offense may also be elevated to a felony under certain circumstances. For instance, it becomes a felony when the offender inflicts or causes “serious bodily injury,” which is defined as “injury that creates a substantial risk of death; permanent disfigurement; extreme pain or suffering; loss of function of a body part; or the loss of a fetus.”

Other examples include a person being charged with a Level 6 felony if they use their vehicle to commit a traffic offense that results in a fatality, a serious injury to another, or a wrongful death of a child under the age of 14. A driver can be charged with this felony if they cause damage to a firefighter, emergency medical service personnel, or law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of their duties.

Driving under the influence incidents typically begin as misdemeanors, but aggravating circumstances like causing harm or multiple prior DUI offenses within a specific timeframe can elevate them to this felony level. Serious injuries resulting from DUI incidents are another key factor that warrants this level of felony charge in Indiana, reflecting the state’s commitment to road safety and legal accountability.

A Level 6 felony conviction in Indiana can result in prison time of between six months and 2.5 years, depending on the case. However, the Court has great latitude to permit alternative placements, including work release programs and home detention, and can suspend all or a portion of the jail sentence on probation.

Habitual Offender

Level 6 Felonies are considered less severe than other types of felonies, but they still carry substantial prison sentences and serious fines. A felony conviction can have significant collateral consequences that may negatively impact future employment, housing opportunities, and rights, so it is vital for any Hoosier charged with a felony offense to fully understand the potential penalties.

A conviction of a Level 6 felony in Indiana will typically result in up to two and a half years of imprisonment for crimes such as criminal stalking, domestic battery, and theft of property under $500. It is important to keep in mind that there are many aggravating circumstances that could lead to an increase in the severity of the charge and, thus, the penalty incurred.

It is also crucial for any person who is facing a Level 6 felony charge to understand that they could potentially be charged with a much more severe crime in the future, depending on how many other felony convictions they have under their belt. Generally speaking, anyone who is convicted of a level 6 or higher felony and has more than two prior felony convictions could be certified as a habitual offender.

The good news is that there are ways for people with a Level 6 felony conviction to benefit from certain benefits that are unavailable to those with a higher-level felony. This is because of a statutory provision found in Indiana Code 35-38-1-1.5, which allows judges to reduce or convert a felony conviction into a misdemeanor under specific conditions. A judge may do this on their own initiative, upon a defendant’s petition, or through an agreement with the prosecutor.

Defendants must meet all the requirements of this statute to qualify for a reduction or conversion under this program, and, as such, it is critical for individuals to work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney when charged with a Level 6 felony. Attorney Joseph M. Roberts is committed to obtaining a reduction or even dismissal of the felony charges against his clients and will fight diligently to protect their rights in court.

Alternative Misdemeanor Sentences

In some cases, Indiana law provides the option for courts to enter a conviction for what would otherwise be a Level 6 felony as a misdemeanor. This option, found in Indiana Code 35-38-1-1.5 and applies to certain crimes like DUIs involving serious bodily injury, allows individuals to avoid the harsher consequences of a felony conviction. However, the court must consider several factors when converting a felony into a misdemeanor.

Generally, judges can impose a fixed sentence that can be executed (sentenced to prison) or suspended (probation). When considering a sentence, the judge takes into account aggravating and mitigating circumstances as well as evidence of the offender’s remorse or lack of criminal history. In addition, the judge may take into consideration whether the offender is a Habitual Offender. Indiana law imposes additional fixed incarceration terms ranging from 2 to 20 years on offenders who commit repeat felonies or offenses committed in furtherance of gangs or guns.

When deciding on a sentence, the judge must also consider the fact that a felony conviction will carry significant lifelong consequences for the offender. These ramifications can include severe limitations on one’s freedom and the inability to obtain certain jobs and positions. In most cases, the offender will also lose their right to vote and own firearms as a result of a felony conviction.

The most serious consequence of a felony conviction is the loss of civil rights. A person will generally lose the right to vote, the right to own a gun, and the ability to work in certain professions. Other restrictions can be imposed on a convicted offender, including restraining orders.

Felonies are taken seriously by the state and prosecuted with greater frequency than other offenses. In the majority of cases, prosecutors will charge a Level 6 felony when they have sufficient evidence to prove an accused’s involvement in a crime. Most states have specific time limits or statutes of limitation within which a case must be resolved. This is meant to prevent stale charges and encourage prompt resolution of criminal matters.

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