I have found that with the sweeping legal reform presently being undertaken within Indiana, both lawyer and citizens without legal training are being told conflicting information as it relates to drunk driving prosecutions.
One of the main questions being posed to me is that of the present revamping of how jails or prisons will apportion credit time for one sentenced to a county jail or prison.
While many lawyers have been trained for years with the notion of day for day credit, the new laws in this area in my view have unnecessarily confused how lawyers are relating the implication of recently modified credit time laws to their clients.
Although some serious offenses involving violence and upper level felonies will be depriving those convicted of day for day credit, such will not be the case with most drunk driving offenses that are not otherwise related to a more serious felony charged by virtue of the same legal episode of conduct.
Therefore, unlike most drunk driving convictions that will continue to essentially halve the executed number of incarceration days due to unchanged day for day credit statutes, upper level felonies will decrease available time based upon the enunciated offense.
For example, many of those convicted and sentence to executed terms of incarceration will now only earn one day credit for every three (3) days served. For the most major of offenses credit time will be removed altogether.
The legal underpinnings behind the notion of credit time in many respects has focused upon the idea of prison safety. For violent offenders it has been a commonly accepted form of thought that a prisoner who is motivated to reduce his sentence through upstanding conduct behind bars will be compliant; fearful of having credit days taken away from him or her.
It is my personal view that there is a tremendous amount of validity to the principals behind earned credit time, and the well being of those individuals responsible for keeping order within our prison and jail populations.
Now that credit time in Indiana carries the potential to be unavailable altogether for some newly convicted inmates, it will be most instructive to monitor the extent to which prisoners will be willing to accept the orders handed down among those in authority of respective prison populations.
In coming years I believe that we will see the errors behind the removal of all credit time for those convicted of enunciated offenses. Any legislative practice that in any way obstructs the rehabilitative mission of a legal sentence and puts jail or prison officials in harms way is a disservice to the core principals behind the administration of needed rehabiitation.
Where at present, drunk driving offenders have not been placed within the designated categories subject to the elimination of day for day credit time, short sighted politicians on the lookout to make talk tough pronouncements against drunk drivers must be carefully observed and kept in check in the next legislative sessions.
Because drunk driving convictions have thus far not been labeled within the violent offender category, credit time as formerly available will remain unchanged. Let us hope that this remains the case in the coming years.
What has been changed is the present pause in regard to habitual substance offense classifications. Between July 1 when the new legilslative laws have taken effect to January 1 of 2015, habitual filings designating some as a habitual offender has been paused until hso laws take effect again come the turn of the year.
Due to what I can only surmise as negligent error on the part of politicians and bureacrats within the state, a misimpression may have been created that habitual laws will be going away due to a legislative failure to include formerly viable hso legislation until the start of 2015.
As a result, it is important for lawyers representing those presently charged after July 1 with a dui offense with multiple former convictions to not proceed under the false assumption that the prosecution’s hands will be tied in this area for much longer.
Understanding the full nature of the changes that have been made to the criminal code will be a needed undertaking on the part of the legal defense bar within Indiana. In so doing, a client has a right to expect that he or she can properly be advised as to taking advantage of any and all potential benefits available under the new codification of criminal laws.