Indiana Criminal Code revisions could mean shorter sentences

Convicted criminals in Indiana are now on shorter sentences for committing violent crimes.

There have been nearly 600 residential burglaries so far this year, and under the newly revised Indiana Criminal Code, the penalties for the crimes are much lower. That is leaving victims to wonder- are they really being protected?

"If there's anything we need to do in Vanderburgh County, it's not lower the penalties for meth manufacturers and this law does that," said Vanderburgh County Prosecutor, Nick Hermann.

Revisions to the Indiana Criminal Code will lower sentencing penalties for a total of 26 crimes. It's all in an effort to balance the prison systems and alleviate jail overcrowding.

It's the first time the code has been overhauled since 1977. Under the current system, felony charges range from Class A to Class D. Under the new system, charges will range from Level 1 to Level 6.

"Drugs are being slashed all the way across the board. You're seeing a lot of what used to be felonies moved to misdemeanors and a lot of misdemeanors moved to infractions," Hermann said.

Penalties for home invasions and burglaries are also being lowered by 40 percent. Hermann says often times the crimes go hand in hand.

"It's really counterintuitive because you see so many of these home invasions, so many of the robberies, they have to do with drugs. They're either to get drugs, to get money to support the habit," Hermann said.

Forgery and counterfeiting is another problem Evansville has struggled with in recent months. It's also a sentence that has been reduced.

"I don't think that the penalty should come down on those. I think the integrity of our system of economics is dependent on us being able to trust somebody's word, trust somebody's pin number, trust somebody's signature," Hermann said.

But not all the reforms work against the criminal justice system.

"We're going to be able to file habitual offender counts on more people than we have in the past, it's going to be easier to prove," Hermann said.

The new sentencing guidelines aren't set in stone. They go into effect on July 1, but the prosecutor says local legislators will be busy lobbying for tougher penalties in the next session.

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