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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Ind. Law - "State criminal code changes first in 35 years " [Updated]

James D. Wolf Jr. reported yesterday in the Gary Post Tribune on the changes that go into effect today. The useful long story begins:

VALPARAISO — The Porter County Prosecutor’s Office spent the last full week of June training the county’s more than 300 police officers in the state’s new criminal code.

Officers need to know how to charge crimes under House Bill 1006, which changes Tuesday the classifications of felonies from Class A, D, C, and D to Levels 1-6.

“We had to train so late in the month because we didn’t have time,” Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel said.

His deputies spent June 18-20 downstate learning the latest tweaks to the first major changes in Indiana criminal code since 1979.

Charging on the new system is based on when the crime happened, so a crime that happens June 30 will still be charged under the old system, even if it’s charged after July 1.

“The intent of the revision was to reduce the number of nonviolent and drug-addicted inmates in the Department of Corrections while establishing provisions to increase the sentences of the ‘worst of the worst’ murderers, violent felons and predators,” Gensel said by email last week.

The legislature left penalties for 250 felonies unchanged, including murder, which stands as its own felony category, while 90 drug and property felonies have decreased penalties.

The lawmakers believed that “drug defendants that were more drug addicts than drug dealers would be better served through community corrections programs,” Gensel said.

That includes therapy, house arrest and other alternatives.

“We have one of the best and most extensive community corrections programs in the state,” Porter Superior Judge Roger Bradford said. “So we don’t send nonviolent felons to the Department of Corrections as often as others.”

[Updated at 9:39 AM] See also this lengthy story from last week by Madeline Buckley of the South Bend Tribune, headed "New sentencing law's local impact unclear."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 1, 2014 09:07 AM
Posted to Indiana Law