Criminal law issues

On January 21, 2020, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 335 authored by Sen. Young and Sen. Brown regarding criminal law issues. The bill provides that, if certain criminal penalties are increased (or, in the case of an infraction, imposed) due to a prior conviction or infraction committed by a defendant, the new offense must have been committed not later than seven years from the latter of the date: (1) of the conviction or infraction judgment; or (2) the person was released from incarceration, probation, or parole; excludes certain crimes and classes of crimes from the seven-year lookback period; specifies the duties of an operator of a boat who is involved in an accident or collision resulting in injury; provides that an indigent defendant has the right to consult with and be represented by counsel at the initial hearing; adds strangulation and domestic battery to the definition of “crimes of violence”; removes: (1) unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon; and (2) resisting law enforcement by fleeing; from the definition of “crimes of violence”; specifies that references to a conviction for Indiana offenses include: (1) an attempt to commit the offense; (2) a conspiracy to commit the offense; and (3) a substantially similar offense committed in another jurisdiction; provides that credit earned by a person on pretrial home detention does not include accrued time; specifies that the violation of a condition of home detention does not constitute the crime of escape; makes it a crime to possess a firearm with an obliterated serial number (under current law, it is only a crime to possess a handgun with an obliterated serial number); provides a defense to possession of “smokable hemp” if the hemp is carried in continuous transit from another state through Indiana to another state. 

The bill was amended by majority vote to:  

  • specify that a defendant placed on bail for a crime of violence who is rearrested for a new offense: (1) may not be released on the defendant’s own recognizance; (2) may not pay partial cash bail; and (3) must pay an amount of bail that is $2,500 or the original bail amount, whichever is greater and remove two provisions concerning current convictions 
  • reinstate the law making the violation of a home detention order the crime of escape 
  • reinstate resisting law enforcement (fleeing) and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon to the definition of “crime of violence”    

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in favor of the bill and amendments.  The Indiana Public Defender Council testified in favor of the bill and against the amendments.  The American Bail Companies testified in support of the bail amendment.  The chair held the bill for additional amendments. 

 On January 28, 2020, the Committee heard the bill for amend and vote.  The committee adopted the following amendments: 

  • increase the lookback period to 15 years with the exclusion of four specific crimes: dealing in cocaine, dealing in methamphetamine, manufacture of methamphetamine, and dealing in a scheduled I, II, or III substance; 
  • clarify that the mandatory $2,500 bail be applied only if the new arrest is for a crime that is a Level 5 felony or greater; 
  • preserve existing lookback periods; 
  • modify the removal of serial number on a handgun language to match federal language regarding long guns.  

The amended bill passed 4-2.  

Read the bill at: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/bills/senate/335.