Indiana prosecutors call for harsher sentences on drug offenses

Full Article

IndyStar on 12/09/2015

Indiana prosecutors are calling for tougher punishments on drug crimes in a proposal that they say would target career drug dealers and violent criminals.

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, or IPAC, is urging state lawmakers to consider a bill this coming session that would give prosecutors more tools to charge suspected drug dealers with higher-level offenses. The proposed legislation would bump drug-dealing charges from a Level 4 or 5 felony to a tougher Level 2 felony, which would carry a sentence that must be served in prison.

Under the proposal, a drug-related crime that meets at least one aggravating factor will be considered a Level 2 felony, punishable by 10 to 30 years. IPAC wants the minimum sentence to be spent in prison. The factors are:

  • the crime involves at least 10 grams of drugs.
  • the suspect has a prior conviction of dealing controlled substances, except marijuana.
  • a firearm is involved.
  • the crime was committed in the presence of a child.
  • the drugs were sold to a person younger than 18.
  • the crime resulted in death.
  • the crime was committed in a school bus or within 500 feet of school property, a public park, a family housing complex or a youth programs center.

IPAC announced its proposal Wednesday at the JW Marriott in Downtown Indianapolis during a news conference attended by about 50 prosecutors from across the state. Two enlarged pictures were displayed — one showing 6½ pounds of methamphetamine hidden in fire extinguishers and the other depicting several confiscated assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns.