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Indianapolis Criminal & OWI Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Defense > Answering Common Criminal Law Questions in Indiana

Answering Common Criminal Law Questions in Indiana


As criminal defense attorneys, we get many questions about criminal law, and with all the misinformation spread by criminal related entertainment many people do not understand the basics of criminal law. Criminal law is a complex area of law, and it is understandable if you have questions. Also, criminal law is a constantly changing area, so the information you have that you think is accurate may actually be inaccurate. Understanding the ins and outs of criminal law is crucial. When you understand criminal law, you can navigate the legal landscape effectively. In this article, we aim to help you better understand Indiana criminal laws by addressing some common criminal law questions we get from Indiana residents.

  1. What are the different types of crimes in Indiana?

In Indiana, crimes are categorized as misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes than felonies and the penalty range is 0 to 365 days in jail.  The lowest level felony carries a minimum sentence of 6 months and the highest felony carries a maximum sentence of 65 years. Misdemeanors and felonies are further classified into different categories based on the severity of the offense.

  1. What are the potential penalties for criminal offenses in Indiana?

The penalties for crimes in Indiana vary depending on the severity of the offenses. A misdemeanor conviction can result in a short jail sentence, fines, or probation. On the other hand, a felony conviction can result in, among other penalties, a lengthy prison sentence, huge fines, and the loss of rights.

  1. What are the common defenses in a criminal case?

Challenging the sufficiency of the State’s evidence is the most common defense.  A couple ways this can be done is by challenging the testimony of witness or challenging the State’s interpretation of the evidence. The other defenses that might be available on a specific case depend on the circumstances of that case. The following are some available defenses used in Indiana criminal cases:

  • Self-defense
  • Alibi
  • Mistaken identity
  • Not guilty by reason of insanity


When facing criminal charges, it is crucial to consult a qualified criminal defense attorney who can help you understand the State’s case against you, and the law the applies.  .

  1. What rights do criminal defendants have in Indiana?

Criminal defendants in Indiana are protected by a number of rights, including the following;

  • The right to legal representation
  • The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to a public, fair, impartial, and speedy trial
  • The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
  1. Does the government really give criminal defendants legal counsel?

In Indiana, the law states that if a defendant cannot afford an attorney, they have the right to have an attorney appointed to them by the court.  If requesting appointed counsel, you should be prepared to answer questions about your financial circumstances.

  1. How are sentences determined after a conviction?

In Indiana, your sentence can be determined in a few different ways.  If you are convicted following a trial, it is up to the judge to determine the penalties that make up the person’s sentence. This is true whether you were found guilty by a jury or a judge. When determining a sentence, the court considers several factors, including the severity of the offense, the defendant’s social-economic background, and criminal history.  However, the Court can consider any mitigating or aggravating factors they would deem relevant.

  1. Can a conviction be removed from my record?

Removed, no.  Sealed from public disclosure, yes.  This is called expungement. However, not all convictions can be expunged. For example, in Indiana, sex offenses cannot be expunged. Additionally, for those offenses you can expunge, certain conditions must be met.

Contact an Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have questions or need help with a criminal case, contact a skilled and dedicated Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer at Rigney Law LLC to schedule a consultation.

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