New Indiana Law Permits Class D Felony Convictions to be Reduced to Misdemeanor Status
A felony conviction can penalize a person in many ways beyond their criminal sentence. A felony conviction can immediately disqualify a skilled person from certain jobs, when they otherwise would be hired. Convicted felons are not eligible for many types of federal assistance programs, may be subjected to travel restrictions or scrutiny when trying to enter another country, may be disqualified for certain loans, will have restrictions on carrying a firearm, and may be ineligible to vote or serve on a jury. Having a felony conviction can also trigger harsher penalties in future criminal cases. Furthermore, a felony conviction carries a stigma that remains long after the criminal sentence has been completed.
Under an Indiana law that became effective on July 1, 2012, a person with a Class D felony conviction may petition the sentencing court to reduce the conviction to a Class A misdemeanor. To qualify for reduction of the Class D felony to a misdemeanor, the following criteria must be met:
1. The person is not registered as a sex or violent offender; 2. The Class D felony conviction did not result in injury to a person; 3. The person has not been convicted of perjury or official misconduct; 4. Three years have passed since the person completed their sentence; 5. The person has not been convicted of another felony since they completed their sentence; and 6. The person does not have any pending criminal charges.
Prior to this new law being enacted, a Class D felony conviction could only be reduced to a Class A misdemeanor at the time of sentencing or by agreement with the prosecutor in a Plea Agreement. Now, anyone who has been convicted of a Class D felony can petition for misdemeanor treatment if they meet the criteria set forth above.
In the past two years, Indiana has passed several new laws to give people convicted of crimes a second chance. In July 2011, a new law became effective that allows a person to restrict access to their criminal history. Almost all employers do criminal background checks. Under the restricted access law, a person who has been convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or non-violent felony may petition to have their conviction restricted from their criminal history report. Persons who had criminal charges dismissed or who were acquitted at trial are also eligible to have their criminal records restricted.
A past mistake does not have to dictate a person’s future. People who have been denied jobs, housing, and other opportunities due to a Class D felony conviction now have an opportunity for relief. There are many benefits from receiving misdemeanor treatment on a felony conviction. Anyone who has recently filled out a job application can attest to that. If you have been convicted of a Class D felony, you can now seek relief. You may also qualify to restrict access to the criminal record, including from employers who do criminal background checks.