As an attorney with the Modesitt Law Firm and as the Vigo County Prosecutor I encounter a number of Indiana statutes that in my opinion are unjust or simply do not properly address the issue for which the statute was enacted in the first place. I feel compelled to not only represent clients in the private law firm and victims in the criminal realm in court but also to advocate for a change in the law when in fact, in my opinion, it is lacking.
In an attempt to make some changes in the criminal code, I recently contacted Indiana State Senator Jon Ford and requested a meeting. At that meeting, I advised Senator Ford that I felt changes need to be made regarding crimes in Indiana that involve the death of a victim whereby said crime was only classified under Indiana law as a level 5 felony. A level 5 felony carries a sentencing range from one year to six years. Quite frankly, this range of sentence does not seem to fit the crime when in fact a victim has lost his or her life. Senator Ford agreed with me and co-authored a bill in order to make changes that would, in fact, reclassify the level 5 felony offenses, whereby a person is killed, to level 4 felony offenses. A level 4 felony offense requires a range of sentence of two to twelve years. In the event a court would decide to place a defendant under this sentencing statute on supervision, even then there would be a longer period of time whereby the defendant could, in fact, be supervised.
After the bill was in fact presented, then I was advised that it would be discussed at a Senate committee meeting at the Indiana State Capital on January 29, 2019, and that witnesses would, in fact, be heard at that committee meeting. I did, in fact, attend the committee meeting and testified before the committee.
During my testimony in front of the committee, I advised them that one of the hardest things to do is meet with the family of a victim who has been killed as a result of the criminal act of another, and then advise the family that even though they have lost a loved one forever that the range of sentence for the defendant will only be one to six years. Most family members will respond they feel that it is so unjust and so unfair, and they simply cannot believe that a defendant would not be held more accountable for committing a criminal act that results in death.
There were other citizens from the state of Indiana who also testified at the Senate committee meeting. Some testified in favor of the requested changes and others in opposition to it. Thank God the Senate committee passed the bill which will now be heard and voted on in the House.
I believe in the Scripture that says that to whom much is given much is required. I view my jobs as involving much more than just representing a client or victim in a Vigo County courtroom in light of the fact that we are all required to follow Indiana statutes.
Remember that who you vote for as your State Representative and State senator will make a difference in the laws of the state of Indiana. We all can make a difference, but it is important that we act.
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