What is the Law on Murder in Indiana and What are the Punishments for it?
Many states in the US classify murder into different subdivisions, such as first-degree murder (premeditated murder) and second-degree murder (killing without premeditation).
However, the state of Indiana has distinct laws for voluntary manslaughter (murder in the heat of the moment) and involuntary manslaughter (accidental murder) and the penalties for an individual held for murder is based on the circumstances of the crime. Additionally, the age of the murderer and as that of the victim is taken into consideration. How the crime was committed is also important to convict the murderer.
Murder charge defense in Indiana
Defenses argued for a murder case is varied and diverse. Some defenses may argue innocence which may lead to a non-guilty verdict. Other defenses include self-defense or intoxication which will not acquit the offender but rather bring down the penalty to a less severe one. Common defenses used are:
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge
Penalties and Sentencing for murder in Indiana
The penal law in Indiana allows the death penalty. Usually, a murder case is divided into two parts. The first part of the case decides the innocence or guilt of the offender. Once that is established, the second phase or the sentencing will begin. At the second phase or the sentencing part of the trial, the judge or jury will hear evidence that will justify one’s innocence or aggravate one’s guilt and based on this evidence, a penalty is decided which may include death.
However, to be sentenced to death, the prosecutor should prove beyond doubt that at least one of the below said offensive circumstances took place during the murder and make sure that the element of doubt does not outweigh these offensive circumstances. A defendant can be sentenced to death if:
- The defendant killed the victim in the process of attempting a robbery, burglary, arson, carjacking or criminal gang activity.
- Killed the victim by means of an intentional explosion
- Killed the victim by intentionally lying in wait to commit the crime
- Hired someone to kill the victim
- The defendant was a previously convicted murderer
- The offender tortured the victim while alive, eventually leading to death.
- Intentionally fired a firearm into a vehicle or a home.
The defendant can also be sentenced to death if the victim was:
- A police officer, judge, probation officer, etc
- A child under 12 years of age
- Kidnapped and subjected to criminal confinement
- A witness that would have possibly testified against the defendant
The defendant can have his sentence reduced to anything less than a death sentence if:
- He or she has no significant past criminal record or history
- Was subject to extreme mental or emotional disturbance when the murder was committed
- Was a collaborator to the murder although the actual involvement in the case is negligible
- Acted under the strong, enforcing influence of another person
- Was not of mentally sound mind while the act was committed as a result of mental disease or defect.
The penalty in general in Indiana
If convicted of murder by the court of law in the state of Indiana, the offender can be punished with the death penalty, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. There are also possibilities of being sentenced to anywhere between 45 and 65 years in prison and a fine of up to ten thousand dollars.
It is important to note that under the Indiana Penal Law as well as the United States law in general, children cannot be sentenced to death. It may also be noted that defendants who were of the age of 16 or 17 at the time of the murder cannot be sentenced to death but can be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.