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Criminal Law Bill Talk: What's Brewing in the Legislature This Year - Criminal Justice News

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Criminal Justice News

Posted on: Jan 10, 2018

By Jennifer P. Harrison, Lewis & Wilkins LLP

The Indiana legislative session is heating up, coinciding with Indy's own impending heat wave (hey, you can call 40 degrees hot when it felt like -10 all last week…) So, let’s look at some of the things brewing this year in the legislature!

Senate Bill 17 moves to change the penalty for the charge of voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon. Currently, this is a level 2 felony which carries a minimum penalty of ten years and a maximum penalty of thirty years. SB 17 if passed would make voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon a level 1 felony which carries a minimum penalty of twenty years and a maximum penalty of forty years.

Senate Bill 337 continues the fight against the opioid epidemic and seeks to enhance the penalty if a person deals carfentanil or fentanyl and the delivery of that drug results in the user’s death.

House Bill 1160 attempts to increase the sentences for those convicted of felonies if the state can show beyond a reasonable doubt that the person knowingly or intentionally used a firearm in the commission of the felony. This bill, if passed, would change the current law which states a defendant may be sentenced to an additional five to twenty years to requiring a defendant be sentenced to a fixed term of ten years. This bill makes it mandatory for prosecutors to file the sentence enhancement as well. Additionally, this bill opens up felony to mean all felonies. Currently the law only allows the sentence enhancement to be filed in limited circumstances, such as a felony under Indiana Code 35-45 which results in death or serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or criminal confinement charged as a Level 2 or Level 3 felony.

This is just a small preview of the bills in front of our legislature this year. I encourage you to check out the links below and see the bills pending before them. If you have input that you feel is valuable on any of these bills, I encourage you to get involved in the process! Call your legislators or contact members of the committee. Invite them out for coffee to share your ideas or concerns or, better yet, do something we rarely get to do and go testify! Our criminal justice section is full of well-versed and amazing trial attorneys who work directly with the people affected by our criminal code. Your opinion and your experiences can make a difference in shaping the law.

Go here for all of the bills pending before the Indiana Senate’s Corrections and Criminal Law Committee.

Go here for all of the bills assigned to the Courts and Criminal Code Committee with the Indiana House of Representatives.

If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Criminal Justice Section, please email Kara Sikorski at


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