Prison v. Jail in Indiana

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Generally speaking, if you’re convicted of a felony, you may be committed to prison.  There are a few exceptions that apply for level 6 felonies which are described below.  The term prison is used in reference to a facility of the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC).  Currently, there are 19 IDOC facilities throughout the state.  This include 3 women’s facilities, and 2 intake facilities.  The facilities are categorized as being either minimum, medium, and maximum level security and the main factors that go into determining what level a defendant will be placed is the level of offense committed, the length of sentence, and the defendant’s prior criminal history.

The term jail is used in reference a local county jail or detention center.

The level of offense an individual is convicted of is the primary factor is determining whether they would have to serve their sentence in jail or prison.
But for a few specific exceptions, a person who is convicted of misdemeanor may not be committed to the department of corrections.

The IDOC may agree to accept custody of an individual convicted of a misdemeanor:

  • if placement in the county jail places the inmate in danger serious bodily injury or death, or represents a substantial threat to the safety of others;
  • for other good cause shown; or
  • if the person have more than 547 days remaining before the person’s earliest release date as a result of:
    1. consecutive misdemeanor sentences; or
    2. a sentencing enhancement applied to a misdemeanor sentence.

If somebody is convicted of a level 6 felony, a court may not commit a person to the IDOC unless certain conditions apply.
A person convicted of a level 6 felony may be committed to the IDOC if they violated probation, parole, or community corrections and the violation was due to a new criminal offense.

As long as a person convicted of a level 6 felony has an earliest possible release date that is more than 365 days after the date of sentencing, they will be committed to the IDOC as long as one of the following apply:

  • The sentence was a result of violating probation, parole, or community corrections and the violation was due to a new criminal offense;
  • The level 6 felony was enhanced to an additional fixed term under IC 35-50-2-8 through IC 35-50-2-16; or
  • The offender received an enhanced sentence under IC 9-30-15.5-2

Accordingly, a majority of level 6 felony sentences will be not eligible to be committed to the IDOC.

An offender who may not be committed to the IDOC may be placed on probation, committed to the county jail, or placed in a community corrections program.

Even if an offender is eligible to be committed to the IDOC, that doesn’t mean that they have to serve any time behind bars.  The possible outcomes and consequences of being convicted of a crime are numerous.  Therefore, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges.  The attorneys and Banks & Brower are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (317) 870-0019 or