With present sweeping reforms to Indiana’s legislative code dealing with criminal penalties, no type of offense has been spared scrutiny. In asessing how certain crimes will be punished, a legislative determination has been made as to the efficacy of imprisonment in regard to the type of wrongdoing alleged.
For example, within the context of non violent offenses, actionable legislative changes have enabled jurists to promote criminal sentencing options away from traditional incarceration first mentalities. The result of such changes will enable many individuals the opportunity to capitalize on rehabilitative treatment options as opposed to the destruction of otherwise productive lives, and/or gainful employment.
However, just as many criminal offenses have now been given more lenienecy in regard to sentencing, be it felony or misdemeanor treatment, or length of potential imprisonment, (theft, drug offense downgrades,) in addition to liberalizing license suspension restrictions to enable those convicted of criminal offenses to maintain employment so as to support families and otherwise be productive members of a taxpaying society, new incarceration codifications in regard to the amount of time served on an ordered sentence will fundementally change the way Indiana’s penal system will be run for years to come.
Prior to this year, Indiana had a uniform policy as to the enactment of earned credit time for all criminal sentences ordering incarceration; be the crimes misdemeanor or felony convictions. The result of which was that no matter the circumstances or severity of the crime convicted of, one would be entitiled to a day for day credit on a judicially imposed sentence.
In other words, all sentences would be cut in half from the pronounced term of incarceration. As a result a sentence of one year incarceration would in actuality be for six months. Although in theory such legislatively endorsed credit time laws were put into effect to motivate inmates toward productive behavior that would lead toward rehabilitation, in reality, it could often be next to impossible for an inmate to lose his or her credit time calculations.
In accord with “truth in sentencing” type laws that have previously been enacted within other states, Indiana’s legislature has now seen fit to revoke present day for day credit calculations for criminal convictions above level 6 felonies.
The end result of such changes is that those convicted of more violent felonies will now be subject to more actual time to be served toward ordered criminal sentences.
For example, level 5 felonies and above will now be mandated to serve at least seventy five percent of the ordered sentences imposed. In some cases, prior felons convicted of heinous crimes will be denied credit time altogether.
Earned credit time allowing sentences to be reduced for educational pursuits while incarcerated will now also be further curtailed.
In regard to my sphere of effort within the realm of dui defense, it is vitally important for other attorneys to take heed of these legislative changes for those convicted of dui causing injury or death cases as well as habitual offender convictions.
It is therefore incumbant upon all lawyers handling drunk driving cases elevated above the level 6 felony classification to understand these credit time changes as it relates to potential sentence ramifications and/or negotiating options before prosecutors throuughout the state.
It will not be surprising to me should the coming months have individuals come to me who have been sentenced to more actual time than understood due to their legal counsel’s failure to recognize the above referenced alterations in regard to credit time calculations.
In my experience I am not optimistic that respective prosecutors will feel it necessary to educate lawyers as to these changes so as to prevent the injustice of an individual sreving more actual incarceration time than understood based upon reliance of now outdated credit time statutes.