No one will be confusing Indiana with Colorado anytime soon, at least when it comes to marijuana laws. Possession and distribution of marijuana will continue to remain illegal in Indiana for the foreseeable future. However, the 2013 Indiana Criminal Code Revision did in fact significantly reduce the penalties in marijuana cases, following a nationwide trend towards liberalizing pot laws.
Current Indiana Pot Law: Even One Joint Could Get You Three Years
Under current law, possession of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 365 days in jail. If you are ever charged with a second pot possession offense, that offense would be charged as a Class D Felony, punishable by 6 months to 3 years in prison. In what many legal observers had long considered to be a serious problem with the old code, it didn’t matter how much marijuana you had on you for any subsequent charge. Even if you had one joint, it would be a felony offense. Dealing in marijuana was a Class D Felony offense, and having more than 10 pounds of marijuana at the time of the arrest would lead to a person being charged with dealing as a Class C Felony.
New Indiana Pot Law: Most, But Not All, Possession Cases Will Be Misdemeanors
Under the new laws that will go into effect on July 1, 2014, possession of marijuana will be initially charged as a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail. Subsequent possession of marijuana charges will be Class A Misdemeanors. Possession of marijuana would only rise to the level of a felony offense under the new Criminal Code if a person had a prior drug conviction AND was charged with having 30 grams or more marijuana at the time of their arrest. Since it is infrequent to find a defendant who has more than 30 grams on him at a time, many Indiana pot possession charges will remain at the misdemeanor level.
Marijuana Dealing Penalties Also Reduced, But Multiple Convictions Can Lead to Up to 6 Years in Prison
Dealing offenses were also reduced under the new code. Dealing in marijuana will now start as a Class A Misdemeanor, although subsequent offenses will be charged as felony offenses. A person with a prior drug conviction (whether it’s possession or dealing) who is charged with a dealing in marijuana offense will be charged with a Level 6 Felony, punishable by 6 months to up to 2.5 years in prison. If the defendant has a prior dealing in drugs conviction AND the amount of the marijuana is at least 30 grams, or if the allegation is that the drugs were being sold to a minor, the offense is a Level 5 Felony, punishable by 1-6 years in prison.
Driver’ License Suspension Still a Big Risk With Pot Charges
If a motor vehicle was used in the commission of a possession of marijuana offense, the court will still order that a defendant’s driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations be suspended for a period between 6 months and 2 years, with no provision for a hardship driver’s license. This remains a ridiculously heavy-handed punishment, as this law allows for a passenger in a vehicle to have his license and registration suspended if convicted of a possession offense. Proper representation by your legal counsel can often result in the State agreeing that no motor vehicle was used in the possession offense, so it may be possible to avoid this collateral penalty if you are charged with a possession of marijuana offense after July 1, 2014.