As an Indianapolis criminal defense attorney, I am asked many of the same questions by numerous clients and potential clients. So I wanted to draft this article to answer some of the most-asked questions about Class A Misdemeanors in Indiana.
Obviously, I won’t be able to answer every question you may have in this article, but if you still have additional questions after reading this article, feel free to send me a message or give me a call at 1-877-772-8638. I am always available to answer questions regarding criminal charges free of charge. So let’s begin.
What Is a Class A Misdemeanor In Indiana?
People often ask “How serious is a Class A Misdemeanor in Indiana?” Well, first, we need to understand what is a Misdemeanor in Indiana. In Indiana, criminal offenses can be categorized into two categories:
1) Misdemeanors; and
In Indiana, and most other states, felonies are the more serious crimes that usually have the potential for jail time in excess of one (1) year. Since 2014, Indiana has six level of felonies: Levels 1-6. Level 1 felonies are the most serious, while Level 6 felonies are the least serious. Prior to 2014, felonies in Indiana were designated as Class A-Class D with Class A being the most serious and Class D being the least serious. We will address felonies in Indiana in a later article.
Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies. In fact, the most common types of criminal cases filed in Indiana are misdemeanors. According to the Indiana Trial Court Statistics by County, almost 49.7% of new criminal cases filed in 2018 were misdemeanors. There were 144,833 new misdemeanor criminal cases filed in Indiana Courts in 2018.
Indiana has three types of Misdemeanors: Class A Misdemeanors, Class B Misdemeanors, and Class C Misdemeanors. In Indiana, Class A Misdemeanors are the most serious and Class C Misdemeanors are the least serious.
List Of Some Class A Misdemeanors In Indiana
The following are examples of some (but not all) Class A Misdemeanors charges in Indiana:
- Resisting Law Enforcement;
- Carrying a Handgun without a license;
- Criminal Conversion;
- Battery with Bodily Injury;
- Domestic Battery;
- Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI) – Endangering a Person;
- Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI) – with a BAC of 0.15 or Greater;
- Medicaid Fraud;
- Check Fraud;
- Possession of a Controlled Substance;
- Dealing in Marijuana;
- Patronizing a Prostitute;
- Check Deception; and
- Possession of Marijuana;
Also, keep in mind that some of these crimes could also be charged as a felony depending on the facts of the case.
How Long Is The Statute Of Limitations For a Class A Misdemeanor In Indiana?
The Statute of Limitations is how long the State of Indiana has to prosecute or file charges against a defendant for a particular crime. For Class A Misdemeanors in Indiana, the Statute of Limitations is two (2) years. This time limit starts to run the moment the crime is complete.
What Is The Penalty For a Class A Misdemeanor In Indiana?
Another question I am often asked is “Do first-time Class A Misdemeanor offenders go to jail?”
Well, it depends. The maximum penalty for a Class A Misdemeanor conviction in Indiana is one (1) year with a maximum fine of $5,000.00. However, few people actually serve one (1) year in jail for a Class A Misdemeanor conviction in Indiana. How many days you will actually spend in jail depends on a few things, including, but not limited to:
- Whether you have any prior convictions;
- If you have prior convictions, the number of prior convictions;
- If you have prior convictions, the type or severity of prior convictions (felonies or misdemeanors);
- Circumstances surrounding the current Class A Misdemeanor;
- The nature of the Class A Misdemeanor (was someone injured?)
We have previously discussed the criminal sentencing guidelines in Indiana. In that article, I explained the aggravating and mitigating circumstances that affect sentencing. Indiana Code 35-38-1-7.1 provides the following eleven (11) factors that a court can consider as aggravating circumstances and eleven (11) factors that a court can consider as mitigating circumstances.
Often, first-time Class A Misdemeanors offenders in Indiana may not spend any more days in jail following their release after their arrest. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule and it is important you speak to a qualified criminal defense attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case.
But even if a person was sentenced to one (1) year in jail following their conviction for a Class A Misdemeanor, they would receive credit time (time for good behavior) of one credit day for each actual day served in jail. So if a person was sentenced to the maximum sentence of a year for a Class A Misdemeanor in Indiana, that sentence would actually be six months served in jail.
Furthermore, as we have explained before, even if a judge sentences you pursuant to the criminal sentencing guidelines, a judge can suspend all or part of the sentence of a convicted person. This means the sentence, or a portion of the sentence, is not served in jail, but served on probation. There is no credit time for probation, so a person ordered to probation for a year, will serve a full year on probation. Class A Misdemeanors are always suspendible but there are limitations on suspended sentences for felony convictions.
Can Class A Misdemeanor Charges In Indiana Be Dismissed?
Yes. Sometimes, the State will dismiss the Class A Misdemeanor charges for various reasons. If a witness becomes unavailable or changes their story, or if evidence is suppressed, excluded or exculpatory (indicating innocence), the State might dismiss the Class A Misdemeanor charges against a person.
Other times, the State may dismiss Class A Misdemeanor charges pursuant to a plea agreement where the State will agree that a person will plea guilty to a lesser count, such as a Class B Misdemeanor or a Class C Misdemeanor. Those Misdemeanors have different maximum penalty levels.
Also, depending on the crime, and your criminal background, you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion, which would result in a dismissal of the Class A Misdemeanor charges filed. Usually, this is only available for first-time offenders for non-violent crimes, but again you should speak to qualified criminal defense attorney to discuss whether this may be an option in your case.
Whether or not to grant you a pretrial diversion for your Class A Misdemeanor charges in Indiana is solely at the county prosecutor’s discretion. While a prosecutor in one county in Indiana may be willing to offer a particular defendant a pretrial diversion for a certain Class A Misdemeanor, another county prosecutor may not be willing to do so for the exact same Class A Misdemeanor. And a judge cannot grant a defendant a pretrial diversion, but the judge does have to approve the pretrial diversion agreement if the State offers it to a defendant.
Each county usually has its own pretrial diversion program, with its own requirements. While it is not as formal as probation, depending on the county, there are various terms and conditions as well as fines and fees associated with it. If a person successfully completes the pretrial diversion program, which are often 6 months to a year in length, then the Class A Misdemeanor charges and/or other charges are dismissed. This is the best outcome for a defendant as you will not have a conviction on your record.
Most people are familiar with a diversion program for speeding tickets or other traffic infractions. Instead of pleading guilty to a traffic offense, a person will pay a larger fine, and as long as they do not receive another traffic offense within a certain time frame, the ticket is dismissed. The idea is the same with pretrial diversions for Class A Misdemeanors in Indiana.
It is important to remember that even if you are granted a diversion for the Class A Misdemeanor charge, and your case winds up being dismissed, the fact that you were arrested and charged with a Class A Misdemeanor will always remain public record. The only way to remove the fact that you were arrested and charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, even if it was dismissed, is to have it expunged. The Indiana Expungement Law allows for charges that were dismissed by the State, including pretrial diversions, to be expunged one (1) year after the date of the arrest as long as you are no longer participating in the pretrial diversion program.
How Long Do Class A Misdemeanors Stay On Your Record In Indiana?
In some states, misdemeanors are removed from a person’s criminal record after a certain number of years. However, in Indiana, once convicted of any misdemeanor in Indiana, it will always remain on your record unless you have your criminal record expunged. We have written an article answering many questions about the Indiana Expungement Law.
In short, in Indiana, you must wait five years from the date of conviction before expunging a Class A Misdemeanor Conviction. In addition, you cant have any other convictions in the last five years. So even if you were convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor in the year 2010, you would not be eligible to expunge that year 2010 conviction if you had another conviction in 2017. Even though its been five years since the year 2010, you did have another conviction in the last five years. (The only exception is if the prosecutor of the county in which you have a conviction agrees in writing to an early expungement). Also, you must have paid all your fines, fees, and restitution associated with your conviction.
Do Class A Misdemeanors Show Up On A Criminal Background Check?
Again, it depends. In this case, it depends on who is conducting the background criminal check. But most of the time, yes they do. You can search the Indiana online docket at https://mycase.in.gov or Doxpop.com to check your own criminal history. However, many counties did not join the online docket until recently, and many older convictions are also not listed. So just because you do not see your conviction(s) listed does not mean that it has disappeared or that it may not showing up on a background check. For a comprehensive background check, contact the Indiana State Police for a criminal history search.
Often, a conviction for a Class A Misdemeanor can have adverse affects on a person’s ability to secure a job or housing. If this is a difficulty you are facing, you should speak to an Indiana Expungement Lawyer regarding the possibility of an expungement.
Can You Buy A Gun With a Misdemeanor Conviction In Indiana?
Many people also want to know if they are able to purchase a gun with a Class A Misdemeanor conviction in Indiana. And again, the answer is “it depends.” Generally, most Class A Misdemeanor convictions in Indiana do not prohibit a person from purchase or possessing a firearm.
However, if you have been convicted of Class A Misdemeanor Domestic Battery, you will not be able to purchase or possess a firearm. Even an expungement of a Class A Misdemeanor Conviction for Domestic Battery will not restore your right to own a firearm. If you have a Class A Misdemeanor Conviction for Domestic Battery, you will have to petition the Court under a separate statute, Indiana Code 35-47-4-7, to restore your right to possess a firearm. This cannot be done until five years after the date of conviction at the earliest.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer Today!
While this article contains a lot of information regarding Class A Misdemeanors in Indiana, it is NOT a substitute for speaking to a qualified criminal defense lawyer.
If you are facing Class A Misdemeanor charges in Indiana, it is important you speak to a qualified criminal defense lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your case. The attorney can determine if you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion, whether there are any evidence or suppression issues, discuss potential plea bargain options, or answer any other questions you may have in general.
Too often clients come to me with issues after they have pleaded guilty to a crime, despite not having an attorney. I strongly suggest you speak to an qualified criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty to any crime. You may be eligible for a diversion, a suspended sentence, or even a dismissal of the charges against you.
Avnet Law understands the issues, the law, and can advise you regarding Class A Misdemeanors in Indiana and any potential defenses you may raise. Avnet Law represents clients charged with crimes in Indianapolis, Noblesville, Fishers, Carmel, Westfield, and Central Indiana.
Call 1-877-77-AVNET to Schedule a Free Consultation with an Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer today or contact us below with any questions you may have about your case.