Your Rights Are the Foundation of Your Defense – Let’s Explore Them

Have you ever wondered about your rights when faced with a criminal charge in Elkhart, Indiana? Criminal rights are the essential safeguards that protect individuals accused of crimes. In simple terms, these rights ensure fairness and justice in the criminal justice system.

Criminal rights encompass a range of fundamental protections granted to anyone accused of a crime. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to legal representation, and the right to a fair trial. They are designed to ensure that individuals are treated fairly and that their innocence is presumed until proven guilty.

Understanding your Elkhart IN criminal rights is crucial when navigating the legal process. Whether you are accused of a misdemeanor or a felony, knowing your rights empowers you to make informed decisions and seek legal counsel if needed.

Quick Summary:

  • Criminal law defines actions as offenses and determines penalties for violators, aiming to protect citizens and public safety.
  • Criminal law differs from civil law, which resolves disputes and seeks remedies, typically compensation.
  • Penalties for misdemeanors and felonies in Indiana vary in severity.
  • Rights in a criminal trial include hiring an attorney, a prompt trial, and the privilege against self-incrimination.
  • The court provides information about bail, charges, and the initial plea at the initial hearing.
  • Bail bonds are used to secure the release of arrested individuals.
  • Understanding the typical progression of a criminal case is crucial for defendants.
  • Indiana’s statute of limitations dictates time frames for bringing charges, with exceptions for some cases.
  • Prosecutions can begin within one year of discovering new evidence for specific felonies.
  • Some sex crimes in Indiana can be prosecuted until the alleged victim turns 31.
  • The statute of limitations for offenses against a child requiring sex offender registration is ten years or four years after the victim is no longer dependent.
  • Prosecution for Level 3 Felony offenses like rape must begin within five years of discovering new DNA evidence.
  • Exceptions apply when accused offenders are not residents of Indiana, evade legal service, or conceal evidence.
  • Elected or appointed officials charged with specific crimes may face prosecution at any time.

What is Criminal Law?

Criminal law comprises a set of rules that identify specific actions as criminal offenses and determine the consequences for those who violate them. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the well-being of citizens and promote public safety by discouraging people from engaging in unlawful activities and imposing penalties on wrongdoers. 

The severity of criminal offenses varies, ranging from less severe misdemeanors to more grave felonies. It is worth noting that criminal law differs from civil law, which revolves around resolving disputes between individuals or entities and aims to offer a remedy, usually in the form of compensation, for harm caused by one party. 

While civil law focuses on delivering justice to victims, criminal law concentrates on punishing those responsible for crimes and ensuring the overall protection of society from harm.

What Crimes in Indiana Have Tough Penalties?

Whether you are facing a felony or a misdemeanor charge, the impact on your future and life can be substantial.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Charges in Indiana

Class C Misdemeanor

While it is the least serious offense, it can lead to up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500 in Indiana. A typical example is a minor caught in possession of alcohol.

Class B Misdemeanor

This level of offense can result in fines of up to $1,000 and a maximum of 180 days in jail. Common instances include public intoxication, possession of marijuana in Indiana, or driving under the influence while endangering others.

Class A Misdemeanor

The most severe category in Indiana, this can incur fines of up to $5,000 and a maximum one-year jail term. Examples include possession of marijuana in Indiana or a DUI that puts others at risk.

Penalties for Felony Charges in Indiana

Level 6 Felony

Facing a Level 6 felony charge can lead to a prison term ranging from six to 18 months. An example of a common Level 6 felony is theft.

Level 5 Felony

This category carries a potential sentence of one to six years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. An instance often classified as a Level 5 felony is battery resulting in serious injury.

Level 4 Felony

Charges falling under this level may lead to imprisonment from two to 12 years and a maximum fine of $10,000. Residential burglary is a typical offense that can result in such a sentence.

Level 3 Felony

A Level 3 felony entails a prison sentence of three to 16 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Aggravated battery is an example of a Level 3 felony.

Level 2 Felony

This level of felony can result in punishment ranging from 10 to 30 years in prison, accompanied by a maximum fine of $10,000. Voluntary manslaughter is an illustrative example of a Level 2 felony.

Level 1 Felony

Reserved for the most serious criminal charges in Indiana, a Level 1 felony conviction can lead to imprisonment for 20 to 40 years. Attempted murder serves as an instance of a Level 1 felony.

What Are Elkhart IN Criminal Rights in Trial?

According to Indiana Code 35-33-7-5, a judicial official must notify the defendant of specific rights during the initial hearing, which include:

  • The right to hire an attorney, with a deadline of 20 days for felony charges and 10 days for misdemeanor charges
  • The right to have an attorney is provided at no cost if the individual cannot afford one (for indigent persons)
  • The right to a prompt trial
  • The privilege against self-incrimination is held by the individual

Moreover, the judicial official must also convey specific information to the defendant, including:

  • The details and conditions of their bail
  • The nature of the charges filed against them
  • An initial plea of “not guilty” is automatically entered on their behalf, which will only become a formal “not guilty” plea either 20 days after the initial hearing or 10 days for individuals facing only misdemeanor charges, unless a different plea is entered by the defendant

Additionally, the defendant must be informed of their right to request a specialized driving privileges hearing if their charges involve any offense in which operating a motor vehicle is a crucial element, any violation under Indiana Code 9-30-5 or Indiana Code 35-46-9, or any offense outlined in Indiana Code 35-42-1, Indiana Code 35-42-2, or Indiana Code 35-44.1-3-1 that includes the use of a vehicle.

What Are Bail Bonds in Indiana?

When an individual is arrested and faces criminal charges in Indiana, they can secure their release through a bail bond, a sum of money serving as a guarantee that they will attend court proceedings while their case is ongoing. A bail is an option available to all defendants except those charged with murder, and the specific amount required depends on the gravity of the offense.

Indiana Code 35-33-8-3.9 outlines how the court calculates the bail amount. A predetermined public bond schedule per county determines the bail amount for less severe charges. The judge sets the bail figure during the initial hearing for more severe charges. If the defendant fails to appear in court as required, the bail money or property pledged as collateral is forfeited. 

The bail money or bond is typically returned after the criminal trial in Indiana, regardless of the trial’s outcome.

What Are the Steps in an Indiana Criminal Case?

As someone facing criminal charges in Indiana, understanding what to anticipate during your case can be beneficial. While every case has its unique elements and may entail specific procedures not found in others, there is a fundamental framework that most criminal cases in Indiana adhere to. 

Familiarizing yourself with the typical progression of a criminal case can provide you with valuable insights into the charges you are facing, as well as your rights and duties as a defendant:


When arrested, it’s crucial to remember that the police must follow specific procedures. During this time, it’s generally advised not to answer any questions until you have a defense lawyer present. Staying silent during arrest and detainment is often the recommended approach.


While law enforcement makes arrests, remember they do not bring formal charges. Instead, the district attorney or another government entity investigates the arrest. They decide whether to press charges and, if so, what charges to file against the individual.

Initial Hearing

Missing your initial hearing can have consequences, so be on time and dressed appropriately. This hearing is where the court informs you of any formal charges.

Discovery Phase

This period, which may span several weeks or months, involves your attorney investigating the prosecution’s case. They aim to uncover the evidence the prosecution holds, potential witnesses, and other critical information. The discovery phase often includes taking depositions from both sides.

Pre-Trial Conference

Before the official trial, the presiding judge meets with both parties’ attorneys to assess the case’s progress. The goal is to streamline proceedings, discourage unnecessary pre-trial activities, and enhance trial preparation.

Review of Counsel

This pre-trial step helps individuals who did not secure a private attorney to access a free or low-cost public defender if they qualify.


Your defense attorney will collaborate with you to develop an effective defense strategy. It is essential to provide your lawyer with all the facts, even those that may seem self-incriminating. Your attorney is bound by law to act in your best interests and maintain strict confidentiality.

Plea Agreement and Sentencing

If you and your attorney agree on a plea deal, efforts are made to reach an agreement with the court. That can conclude your case, and you will receive your sentence.

Jury Trial

A jury trial takes place if no plea deal or agreement is reached. In such instances, your peers listen to both sides of the case and determine your innocence or guilt. If found not guilty, you are acquitted without a criminal conviction. If found guilty, the judge issues your sentence.

What is Indiana’s Statute of Limitations for Criminal Cases?

Indiana’s statute of limitations for criminal cases can be found in Indiana Code 35-41-4-2. This law section defines the time frames within which charges can be brought for both misdemeanors and felonies, including specific provisions for particular crimes like certain sex offenses and murder.

In general, the prosecution for a Level 3, 4, 5, or 6 felony offense must begin within five years from the date of the offense. For misdemeanor offenses, the statute of limitations is set at two years from the date of the offense.

What Are the Exceptions to This Statute of Limitations?

Although the time limits set by the statute of limitations are generally straightforward, there are exceptions to this rule.

Firstly, for Level 3, 4, or 5 felony cases that would otherwise be outside Indiana’s statute of limitations, prosecution may begin within one year of the discovery of new evidence that can support charges against the offender through DNA analysis, or within one year of the point when such evidence could have reasonably been discovered—whichever comes first.

Secondly, the prosecution for certain Indiana sex crimes, which would otherwise be time-barred, can be initiated at any time before the alleged victim turns 31 years old. These sex crimes encompass:

  • Child molesting
  • Vicarious sexual gratification 
  • Child solicitation 
  • Child seduction 
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor 
  • Incest 

Except for Level 1 or Level 2 Felonies and the crimes mentioned earlier, the statute of limitations for offenses against a child that requires a person to register as a sex offender in Indiana is ten years from the date of the offense. Alternatively, it can be within four years after the person who experienced the offense is no longer dependent on the alleged offender, whichever occurs later.

Furthermore, in cases of Level 3 Felony offenses like rape, the prosecution must start within five years from the date of discovering new evidence that supports charging the offender through DNA analysis. Alternatively, it can commence within one year from when this new evidence could reasonably have been found, whichever is earlier.

Indiana’s statutes of limitations do not apply in specific situations, such as cases involving accused offenders who are not usual or public residents in Indiana, those who hide to avoid being served legal documents, or those who conceal evidence of the offense, provided the evidence is unknown to the prosecution and could not have been discovered by them. 

Additionally, if the accused offender holds an elected or appointed office and is charged with theft, conversion of public funds, or bribery while in office, the prosecution for these crimes can start at any time.

Why Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Indiana?

When facing criminal charges in Indiana, understanding why you need a criminal defense lawyer to secure your rights effectively is essential. Here are some key reasons:

  • Our trusted criminal defense lawyers deeply understand Indiana’s criminal laws and the legal system. We can navigate complex legal procedures and use our knowledge to your advantage.
  • One of the primary roles of our legal team is to ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. We will also ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors follow proper procedures and do not violate your constitutional rights.
  • We will thoroughly investigate your case. We will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and examine the prosecution’s evidence to build a strong defense strategy.
  • Our knowledgeable litigators can negotiate with prosecutors to potentially reduce charges or penalties. We can explore plea bargains that may result in a more favorable outcome for you.
  • Our criminal defense lawyer will represent you in court if your case goes to trial. We will present your defense, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.
  • Legal proceedings can be emotionally draining. We can provide not only legal guidance but also emotional support during this challenging time.
  • We are familiar with judges, prosecutors, and court personnel in Indiana. This knowledge can be invaluable when strategizing your defense.
  • Statistics show that individuals who hire criminal defense lawyers are more likely to achieve better outcomes in their cases compared to those who represent themselves.

Trusted Legal Representation in Securing Your Criminal Rights

When securing your Elkhart IN criminal rights, the importance of having a dedicated legal team on your side cannot be overstated. Our trusted criminal defense lawyers play a pivotal role in safeguarding your rights, navigating the complexities of the legal system, and striving for the best possible outcome in your case. 

At Wilson & Kinsmann LLC, we pride ourselves on protecting our client’s rights and providing top-notch legal representation. With a track record of success in Indiana’s courts, our defense lawyers have the experience and determination to ensure that your rights are upheld, and your interests are vigorously defended.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Indiana, do not leave your future to chance. Contact Wilson & Kinsmann LLC today. Let us put our knowledge, skills, and dedication to work for you, providing the solid legal representation you need to secure your criminal rights and work toward a favorable resolution in your case. 

We can also represent you in aggravated assault, drug crimes, domestic battery, and domestic violence. Your rights matter, and we are here to protect them every step of the way.

Give us a call!

Wilson & Kinsman

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Read what our former clients have to say:

A man of utmost integrity

Tom is very kind and personable. He is a great attorney to work for and work with. He is a man of the utmost integrity and is forthright in his practice. I would confidently recommend his legal services to any person I cared about.

Kayla Christofeno

Honest and professional

I was charged with an OWI in Elkhart County and Eric was my first call. He was very helpful and personable throughout the entire process. I certainly appreciated his honesty and professionalism. Eric is definitely well experienced in handling these matters. Thanks to his help and guidance, we were able to have all of our necessary steps done before going to court that helped to retain driving privileges. The judge even remarked at how well the case had been managed during the hearing. With Eric’s help, I was able to obtain specialized driving privileges very promptly. I am still able to tend to my life’s responsibilities and my work. I would highly recommend Eric to anyone else needing help with OWI/DUI charges.