Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It prohibits conduct perceived as harmful, threatening, or otherwise endangering to the property, moral welfare, health, and safety of people inclusive of one’s self.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. That means that when you are charged with a crime, you get certain protections, like the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning.
If you need a lawyer, look no further than the experienced criminal lawyers at Tatum Law Group. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and ensuring you’re treated fairly by law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
For criminal matters and in other circumstances, our team will be proactive in preparing your defense. We will conduct our own investigation, which may include interviewing witnesses and using experts to defend your rights.
Types of Criminal Cases We Handle
- Drug offenses
- Driving while intoxicated
- Domestic violence
- Violent crimes
- Juvenile offenses
- Fraud and financial crimes
Criminal Defense FAQs
Why do you need a criminal defense attorney?
No matter how you plan on pleading, it is crucial you hire a criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. Often the prosecution seeks to bring the harshest penalties allowable by law in criminal cases. The experienced attorneys at Tatum Law Group are skilled at minimizing or even eliminating your criminal charges.
What happens after I’m arrested and charged with a crime?
Generally, a person is brought to the police station to be “booked” into the system. Next, police will evaluate if the subject has any warrants or criminal history, which will determine if the person can be released from custody or whether a bail or bond payment will be required. Also, officers may seize property, records and other materials as evidence.
In certain jurisdictions and depending on the situation, if authorities intend to detain an individual, the person may have a right to have their detention reviewed by a judge.
Typically, the law enforcement agency will file a criminal complaint in court and the subject will be required to appear before a judge on a specific day.
How will a criminal defense attorney help my case?
Your criminal lawyer should have the knowledge and experience to defend the type of charges you are facing. Depending on your case, you may want a lawyer experienced in state and federal courts who is a skilled negotiator and litigator.
A criminal defense attorney can help with alternative scenario planning, evaluation of your options and risk assessment. That means the lawyer will listen to your situation with an open mind and help you understand all the possible outcomes.
Your defense attorney should try to investigate your case using all the facts and evidence available—with experts, if necessary. You should also expect your attorney to be creative in finding a proper resolution of your case.
The 9 Steps of an Indiana Criminal Case
When you are arrested, you will be read your rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Use that right and call a lawyer. Do not answer any questions until you have an attorney present. The less you say, the better.
Once you are arrested, you’re taken to a detention facility or jail and booked into the system. You’re fingerprinted and photographed. Law enforcement officers make arrests, but they are not the entity that brings charges. Instead, the prosecutor’s office or other government entity will investigate the arrest and determine whether to formally charge the individual with a crime, and if so, what crime to charge. By this point, you should have an attorney representing you.
- Initial hearing
Whatever you do, do not miss your initial hearing. Show up on time and in proper attire. Retaining a criminal defense attorney before your initial hearing can provide you with important guidance and information about your case. At the initial hearing, the court will inform you of any formal charges against you.
- Discovery phase
The discovery phase, which takes days, weeks or even months, is a time period in which your attorney will investigate the prosecution’s case to find out what evidence they have against you, which witnesses might be called to testify and other relevant information. This phase typically involves reviewing information and depositions of witnesses on both sides.
- Pretrial conference
Before the official trial begins, the judge assigned to your case will check with attorneys on both sides to assess the progress of the case. Attorneys will meet with the judge in an effort to expedite the proceedings, discourage any unnecessary pretrial activities and improve the quality of the proceedings though adequate preparation and communication.
- Review of counsel
If you have not already retained a private criminal defense attorney, this pretrial activity helps you retain a free or low-cost public defender. Typically, most parties will qualify for a public defender if they cannot afford their own attorney.
- Negotiations and plea agreement
At this point, your attorney will discuss your case with you to come up with the best possible defense strategy. It’s important to give your attorney all the facts of the case—even information you think incriminates you. The law requires your attorney to ask in your best interest, and all information in the attorney-client relationship must be confidential.
If you and your attorney agree to enter into a plea agreement, your attorney will work hard to reach an agreement with the prosecution to be approved by the court. Once this happens, your case is over, and you’ll receive a sentence.
- Jury trial
If no plea agreement is struck, a jury trial will commence. In these cases, a jury of your peers—randomly selected members of the local community—will listen to both sides of the case and determine whether you’re innocent or guilty. If you’re found not guilty, you are free to go. If found guilty, you’ll await sentencing.
If you are found guilty following a jury trial or you’ve reached a deal with the prosecution to plead no contest or guilty, a judge will issue your sentence. The amount of time that you’ll serve—either on probation or incarceration—is determined by a set of standards and guidelines from the Indiana criminal code.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Charges in Indiana
Class C Misdemeanor: This is the least serious offense; however, it still has consequences in Indiana, including up to 60 days in jail and fines that could be up to $500. An example of a class C misdemeanor is a minor in possession of alcohol.
Class B Misdemeanor: You could face up to $1,000 in fines and 180 days in jail. An example of a Class B misdemeanor is public intoxication. Other examples include the possession of marijuana in Indiana or operating a car while intoxicated and endangering another person.
Class A Misdemeanor: This is the highest-level misdemeanor in the state of Indiana, resulting in up to $5,000 in fines and one year in jail. An example of a Class A misdemeanor is the possession of marijuana in Indiana or a DUI and endangering another person.
Penalties for Felony Charges in Indiana
Level 6 Felony: The lowest level felony, this can result in six to 36 months in jail. A common crime that results in a Level 6 felony charge is possession of methamphetamine.
Level 5 Felony: This can be punishable by between one and six years in state prison, with a $10,000 maximum fine. A common level 5 felony is battery that results in a serious injury.
Level 4 Felony: These types of charges can carry a sentence between two and 12 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Residential burglary is a common crime that can result in this sentence.
Level 3 Felony: This carries a sentence between three and 16 years in prison with a fine of up to $10,000. A common level 3 felony is aggravated battery.
Level 2 Felony: This can be punishable by between 10 and 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Voluntary manslaughter is one example.
Level 1 Felony: This level is reserved for the most severe criminal charges in Indiana. A conviction can result in 20 to 40 years in prison. Attempted murder is an example of this type of offense.