Indiana legislator wants a tougher sentence for violent crime offenders

An Indiana legislator intends to introduce a new law that would mandate that judges add two decades onto the sentences of those who use a gun while perpetrating a crime of violence. State Senator Jim Merritt claims that the law is a must as a result of a plethora of invasions in Indianapolis homes. The proposal is also a response to the rising firearm offenses that have occurred in the state.

For example, there were a couple of invasions in October 2013 on the north side of the city, which triggered the proposal. In these cases, authorities say that armed individuals broke into residences, stole vehicles and terrorized families in the homes.

As the law currently stands, Indiana courts have the liberty to sentence offenders of violent crimes involving a gun with five additional years behind bars. In his advocacy of the proposed bill, Merritt points to the 2010 matter of Shamus Patton, who injured several individuals when he fired gunshots into a downtown crowd after a local summer celebration. After this incident, the defendant served just a few years of a scheduled eight-year sentence. Once again, he was arrested for a separate crime just a few months after the incident.

The legislator feels that the Patton case is an example of why the state should strengthen the minimum imprisonment sentence for violent offenders. Merritt believes that the law could deter criminals from violent crimes and simultaneously keep offenders behind bars for a long time.

The evolution of laws against violent offenders

The proposed law is not the first attempt to toughen sentencing laws. For example, a recent law passed mandates that prisoners serve three-fourths of a sentence, even when offenders exhibit solid behavior. This new law will begin in July 2014. It also puts a limit on sentence cuts at two years for former offenders involved in special rehabilitative programs. The law formerly allowed for a four-year reduction.

Mayor Greg Ballard notes that he is in favor of harsher penalties for violent crimes. A spokesperson from Ballard's camp explains, "Approximately 80 percent of the criminal homicide victims and suspects in Marion County in 2013 had criminal backgrounds, including previous weapons charges." As a result, legislators hope to harden the fight against violent offenders with this new legislative proposal.

Criminal laws continue to evolve around the country. For this reason, when charged with a serious violent crime, it is very helpful to have legal support. Those versed in recent laws can help you uncover your options in the case ahead.