A Look at the Crime of Escape in Indiana

What Happens if I Flee from Work Release, Home Detention, or a Jail or Prison?

In this blog Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower take a look at the offenses of escape and failure to return to lawful detention.  These offenses are most commonly charged against those serving community corrections sentences, whether in a work release facility or on home detention.  Generally, it is easier to “escape” in one of these scenarios than it is to escape from a jail or prison facility.  Unfortunately for those charged with one of these offenses, the consequences can go beyond simply a new charge of escape.
Lawful detention has been broadly defined in Indiana Code, and it covers nearly any circumstance where one may not stay where he should or return to where he should.  Lawful detention incudes arrest, custody following surrender in lieu of arrest, detention in a penal facility, detention in a facility for custody of persons alleged or found to be delinquent children, detention under a law authorizing civil commitment in lieu of criminal proceedings or authorizing such detention while criminal proceedings are held in abeyance, detention for extradition or deportation, placement in a community corrections program’s residential facility, electronic monitoring, custody for purposes incident to any of the above including transportation, medical diagnosis or treatment, court appearances, work, or recreation; or any other detention for law enforcement purposes.
Under the first subsection of the escape statute, one who intentionally flees from lawful detention commits escape, a Level 5 Felony.  However, the offense is elevated to a Level 4 Felony if the person draws or uses a deadly weapon or inflicts bodily injury on another person during the commission of the offense.  This subsection generally applies to any “lawful detention” as defined above, but the second subsection covers violations of home detention specifically.
One who knowingly or intentionally violates a home detention order or intentionally removes an electronic monitoring device or GPS tracking device commits escape as a Level 6 Felony.  Thus, one who is away from home longer than permitted while on home detention, or who removes a monitoring device while on home detention, may be charged with a Level 6 Felony.
Finally, the last prohibition in the escape statute covers a failure to return to lawful detention.  A person knowingly or intentionally failing to return to lawful detention following temporary leave for a specific purpose or limited period commits the Level 6 Felony of failure to return to lawful detention.  However, the offense is a Level 5 Felony if the person draws or uses a deadly weapon or inflicts bodily injury on another person during the commission of the offense.  One may be charged with this offense where, for example, he is granted a brief period of leave from a work release facility to visit family and fails to return on time or at all.
But the consequences of escape or failure to return to lawful detention will be magnified for most individuals beyond just the new charge.  Because work release and home detention sentences are generally direct commitments in lieu of serving executed time in a penal facility, a violation such as escape or failure to return to lawful detention will often serve as the basis for the filing of a violation of community corrections and/or probation.
While such a violation is pending, the individual will likely be held in jail without bond.  In addition, the judge may revoke the direct commitment and order the remainder of the sentence to be served in a jail or prison depending on the charge for which the individual was originally convicted.  And, let’s not forget that the new charge of escape or failure to return to lawful detention still remains pending and will likely add time to any sentence already being served!  Further, it is common for those who escape or fail to return to lawful detention to be denied the opportunity for a community corrections placement for another offense, even if the escape was many years prior.
As is probably clear, escape and failure to return to lawful detention are not offenses to be taken lightly.  Because the consequences of such a charge are likely more severe than initially recognized, it is important to speak with an attorney if you or someone you know is facing one of these charges and the possible revocation of a direct commitment or probation.  Contact the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC 24/7 at 317-870-0019 or info@banksbrower.com for help with your case today.

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