What can I do to help my case?

The two main questions most people have when facing criminal charges is what potential penalties am I looking at and how can I help myself between now and the conclusion of the case.

Factors That Go Into a Prosecutor’s Decisions

In Indiana, prosecutors have complete discretion as to what they will offer individuals via plea agreement. A variety of factors go into a prosecutor’s decision on whether or not to offer a reduced term plea including what is the defendant’s criminal history, how did they act around law enforcement, is there are victim in the case and what were their injuries, what is the root cause to why the crime was allegedly committed, and is there addiction issues that may have caused the defendant to act out of character and commit a crime. Additionally, there may be other factors that don’t have anything to do with your particular case such as whether the particular county your case is out of is tough of drug dealing cases, if the county’s jails are too full to make executed time a possibility for a lower level offence, or if the particular prosecutor is just in a bad mood. Given all of these factors, it is very important to pick a law firm that has handled for than a case or two in the county that your case is out of.

Indiana Sentencing Guidelines For All levels of Possible Crimes:

 

Level Sentence Range Advisory Sentence Potential Fine
Murder 45 years – Death 55 years $0 – $10,000
Level 1 Felony 20 years – 40 years 30 years $0 – $10,000
Level 2 Felony 10 years – 30 years 17.5 years $0 – $10,000
Level 3 Felony 3 years – 16 years 9 years $0 – $10,000
Level 4 Felony 2 years – 12 years 6 years $0 – $10,000
Level 5 Felony 1 year – 6 years 3 years $0 – $10,000
Level 6 Felony 6 months – 2.5 years 1 year $0 – $10,000

Class A Misdemeanor      0 days – 1 year                          None                      $0 – $5,000

Class B Misdemeanor      0 days – 180 days                     None                      $0 – $1,000

Class C Misdemeanor      0 days – 60 days                       None                      $0 – $500

At the negotiation table with a prosecutor or at a sentencing hearing in front of the judge, the prosecutor or judge typically starts at the advisory range and will move the needle more or less depending on the facts of the case and any evidence presented. A more in-depth look at the statutory aggravating and mitigating factors a judge will consider can be found here.

So you find yourself in a situation where the evidence is solid and you know you don’t have any business trying to argue the facts, what else can you do to help yourself avoid or reduce the risk of going to jail? The following are some examples you may want to discuss with your criminal defense attorney.

What You Should Discus With Your Attorney

With any major case, a sentencing memorandum may prove helpful. This document is drafted and filed by defense counsel with the court in an effort to present a more complete picture of the defendant other than the crime itself. This document is typically in narrative form and goes over the defendant’s background, childhood, education level, career goals and aspirations, past criminal history, what was the reason for finding yourself in this situation, how you have conducted yourself since being charged, your contribution to your community, role as a parent or spouse, and any other information that could be relevant to the judge to help them understand who you are rather than just a fact pattern on a piece of paper.

Another common practice is to have the defendant collect character reference letters. These can be from family members, friends, co-workers, religious leaders or anyone else you may know in the community. The letters don’t necessary need to reference the case but can give an overview of who you are and how they may have been positively influenced by you. There is no secret formula to writing a persuasive character reference but it is more or less used to show the amount of people positively affected by you. Lastly, most sentencing hearings are open to the public and it could prove to be more influential as an in person statement.

It is also important to get documents to verify certain statements. For instance, college acceptance letters, transcripts from school, certificates or awards, attendance logs from counseling or AA/NA meetings, doctor or counseling letters and anything else that can validate affirmative statements. Additionally, if you have any health issues that would substantially impact your life if incarcerated, it would help to have medical records to support a plea for executed time to be served on community corrections.

As always with anyone charged with a criminal case, it is always best to have an experienced attorney in your corner that can come up with creative solutions to problems you may face. It is also important to have an attorney who is experienced in the county your case is out of who knows the individuals your case will be in front of. The attorneys with Banks & Brower have handled cases in all 92 counties in Indiana and have the experience to help you out. Contact us by phone 24/7 at (317) 870-0019 or by email at info@banksbrower.com.