You were convicted of a crime in Indiana and received a sentence you find unfairly harsh. You would like to change your sentence. You might think appealing your conviction is your only option for getting your sentence reduced.
However, this may not be the case. Some people successfully get their sentence reduced or suspended through sentence modification.
Do I qualify for sentence modification?
Indiana Code §35-38-1-17 addresses sentence modification. Not everyone qualifies for sentence modification.
You cannot qualify for summary dissolution if you were convicted of certain crimes. Ineligible crimes include:
- Child molestation
- Murder or attempted murder
- Manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary
- Aggravated battery
- Certain sex offenses
- Certain theft offenses
- Certain burglary offenses
- Possession of a firearm by a violent felon
If you want to seek sentence modification you must be convicted of a qualifying crime and you must currently be serving your sentence.
How does sentence modification work?
Sentence modification begins when you are serving your sentence and the court obtains a report on your conduct while you are in prison.
The court may reduce or suspend your sentence if your sentence was imposed by an authorized court. If your sentence was the result of a plea agreement, the court cannot reduce or suspend your sentence unless the prosecuting attorney agrees to do so.
You may not need to attend a hearing under certain circumstances to obtain a sentence modification. The court has the discretion about whether to approve or deny a request for sentence modification.
How is summary dissolution different from an appeal?
A summary dissolution is different from a criminal appeal in several ways. You must file a criminal appeal within a specific timeline. You cannot seek an appeal once that timeline has passed. In contrast, you can seek a sentence modification at any point during your sentence.
An appeal is based on arguments, evidence and objections made at your trial. You do not need to have made a previous objection at your trial to seek a sentence modification. An appeal can be sought only once. You can seek a sentence modification more than once, although there are limits on how often you can seek a sentence modification within a certain timeframe.
The outcome of an appeal and a sentence modification may be the same—a reduced or suspended sentence. However, they are two very different procedures.
Sentence modification can be complex. It requires a solid understanding of criminal law and procedure. Professionals can help explain sentence modification and offer valuable advice.