Sentence Modification Indiana

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The Indiana Sentence Modification Statutes

You may be eligible for an Indiana sentence modification if you are currently serving a sentence in Indiana for a criminal offense. However, reducing your sentence isn’t an easy task. Although sentence modification is possible under the Indiana sentence modification statute Indiana Code SS35-38-1-17 in certain circumstances, it can be difficult to interpret how the law is written.

The process can be complicated without help from an experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorney. Trying to determine if an offender is even eligible for a sentence modification, how and when to apply for a sentence modification in Indiana, and how long the sentence modification process takes can be almost impossible to accomplish without the right lawyer.

Arie Lipinski, with Lipinski Law, has extensive experience with filing successful sentence modifications in Indiana. It is important to work with criminal lawyers who are focused on criminal law and sentence modification to increase your chances of getting a reduced or altered sentence. Sentence modification is one of the most common forms of post conviction relief in Indiana.

Contact the best Indianapolis criminal defense attorney for sentence modification immediately to determine if you are eligible to have your sentence reduced, altered, or overturned today. You can get a FREE consultation by calling (317) 605-9223.

The Indiana Sentence Modification Process Explained

The Indiana sentence modification process is separate and completely different from a criminal appeal. While they may seem the same because they are fighting for a similar legal outcome, the court involved, the legal procedures, and the grounds to be argued in court that could affect a criminal sentence are different. A sentence modification petition may be filed at any time during the accused’s prison or jail sentence. However, criminal appeals must be filed within strict time deadlines. Although sentence modifications may seem less stringent initially, this type of relief comes with its own set of restrictions and requirements. Successful arguments require experience, in-depth legal knowledge of Indiana state law, and legal skills that are not available to non-lawyers or attorneys that don’t specialize in post-conviction relief. To find the right sentence modification lawyer in Indiana, you must first understand how sentence modification in Indiana works.

A Lawyer That Can Determine Eligibility for Indiana Sentence Modification

The Indiana sentence modification statute starts by defining who is eligible and who isn’t. Indiana law does not allow everyone to modify their sentence. Particularly, you cannot request a modification to the following:

  • Credit restricted felon under Indiana Code SS35-31.5-2.72 refers to someone convicted for certain child molesting offenses or murder.
  • A violent criminal who is convicted of any one of the listed crimes Indiana Code SS 35-38-1-17(d) With some exceptions, such as the following:
    • Murder
    • Attempted murder
    • Voluntary manslaughter
    • Involuntary Manslaughter
    • Reckless murder
    • Aggravated Battery
    • Kidnapping
    • Some sex-related crimes
    • Robbery at higher levels
    • burglary at higher levels
    • Possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon

Anybody who is not eligible can request a sentence modification. However, there are no guarantees that it will be granted.

The Sentence Modification Procedure

The Indiana sentence modification process looks quite straightforward at first. The first step in requesting a reduction or modification in their sentence is to file the request at the court that issued the sentencing order. If the court schedules a hearing, it notifies both the prosecutor’s office, which must notify the victim if there was one in the case. In the following cases, however, the court can rule on a sentencing request for modification without holding a hearing:

  • The prosecutor has signed a written agreement for the requested modification
  • The offender has waived his right to be present at the court’s consideration of the sentence modification request

An offender can request a modification to their sentence during the sentence. The right to request modification by taking action at trial is not required for offenders. While timely objections must preserve appeal errors at the trial, offenders do not need to have previously raised any grounds for a sentence modification.

What are Grounds for Sentence Modification?

An offender may request a sentence modification for any number of reasons:

  • New information has been discovered that is relevant to the criminal case.
  • The sentence was either illegal or incorrect in some way
  • While serving their sentence, the offender completed any self-improvement or rehabilitation programs.
  • The offender’s family will suffer a significant hardship due to the sentence.

In deciding whether to grant a request for sentence modification, the court considers many factors. Some of these factors are:

  • Has the sentencing range been changed since the sentence was imposed?
  • The age of the offender
  • If the offender is already terminally ill
  • Does the offender have any cognitive impairments

If the courts committed a sentencing error or the sentence is illegal, the offender may be eligible for a modification to his sentence. This may happen if the abstract judgment is not in accordance with the statute or the transcript from the sentencing hearing. These cases are most likely to be accepted in a request for a sentence modification. An offender who argues for a sentence change because the sentence was unlawful could get a harsher sentence.

A common reason for a sentence modification request is the successful completion of educational or self-improvement programs while the offender is incarcerated. A person sentenced to imprisonment for the commission of an offense under state law can show that they have made rehabilitative efforts through participation in one or more programs offered by the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC). The DOC provides programming in these areas:

  • Education or employment
  • Reformative programming for character improvement
  • Addiction treatment/recovery
  • Treatment/support therapy

Arguments that the sentence imposed is a hardship for the offender’s loved ones may be the most difficult road to sentence modification. Most loved ones will feel a hardship if an offender is removed from their family. Modifications based upon hardship are unlikely to be granted by the court in exceptional and rare cases.

Federal sentencing statute U.S. 3582 applies to federal offenders serving a sentence under federal law. Code SS 3582 lists the factors that a judge may consider when imposing or modifying a sentence.

  • There are compelling and extraordinary reasons (such as terminal disease).
  • If the defendant is at minimum 70 years of age and has served 30 years in prison (with certain requirements).
  • If the defendant is dangerous to others or their communities

Indiana Sentence Modification Limitations

The process is straightforward in many respects, but it is more than a matter to ask for a sentence modification. There are also limitations to sentence modification in the Indiana sentence modification statute.

Before 2014, a prosecutor’s consent was required to modify an Indiana sentence within one year of sentencing. Since 2014, the “one-year rule” has been repealed, and offenders can request a modification to their sentence at any stage of their sentences. An offender who is eligible for sentence modification under Indiana Code SS35-38-1-17(j) can still file a petition.

  • Only once per 365-day period
  • Maximum of two times per consecutive period of imprisonment

Sentence modification may also be barred in the case of a sentence imposed as a result of a plea bargain. A plea bargain is where an offender agrees to serve a sentence. This sentence cannot be modified under the Indiana sentence modification statute.

Modifications and the Effect of Sentence Reform

Sentence modifications can also be made based on federal or state sentencing laws changes. Sometimes, an offense that was sentenced before the 2014 Indiana sentencing law revisions may have received a longer sentence than what would be allowed under current law. A modification might be necessary in these cases.

In 2014, Indiana’s sentencing laws were updated. Revisions to Indiana’s sentencing statutes changed from a tiered scheme that used letters to one that used numbers. The new law also changed some sentencing guidelines for offenses. These are the new sentencing ranges in Indiana’s revised sentencing law:

Felony Level Sentencing Range

Level 1 Felony 20-40 years, with an advisory sentence for 30 years

Level 2 felony 10- to 30-years with an advisory sentence of 17.5 years

Level 3 Felony 3 to 16 Years with an advisory sentence of 9 years

Level 4 Felony 2-12 years, with a six-year advisory sentence

Level 5 Felony 1- to 6-years with an advisory sentence for three years

Level 6 Felony 6 months to 2.5 Years with an advisory sentence for one year

Sentencing has also been affected by changes in federal law. Examples of relevant changes in federal sentencing laws are:

  • On November 1, 2014, the United States Sentencing Commission’s Amendment 782 came into effect. This reduced (by two levels) drug offenses.
  •  The Formerly incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safety Transition Every Person Act (FIRS T STEP) as of 2018, described in a March 19, 2019 article by The Indiana Lawyer. This could make previous sentencing reforms retroactive or reduce drug sentences.

What is it like to get an Indiana sentence modification?

To increase your chances of successfully changing your sentence, it is important to work with a sentence modification lawyer who understands the best arguments in your case. Arie Lipinski, a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Indiana, focuses their practice on criminal law to advise you about the pros and cons of seeking a sentence change, identify the grounds for modification that may apply in your case, and present the strongest case for sentence modification.

While offenders should initiate the process to modify their sentence, they should seek out experienced counsel to assist them in preparing their Indiana or federal sentence modification request. Whether you have been sentenced recently, served a long sentence, violated probation, or were in community correction, the Indianapolis sentence modifications lawyers at Lipinski Law can help you determine if you are eligible for a sentence modification. They will also prepare all court filings and represent you in court.

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