Indiana has harsh drug laws. Charges are largely determined by factors like the type of offense and the type and quantity of drug involved. But they may also be influenced by what are known as “enhancing circumstances,” outlined in Indiana Code 35-48-1-16.5.
Enhancing circumstances are significant because they could turn a misdemeanor charge into a felony or a felony into a more serious felony, likely resulting in longer sentences and higher fines. Many of those circumstances are discussed in greater detail below.
Most common enhancing circumstances in drug cases
These are some of the likeliest scenarios that could lead to enhanced drug crimes charges:
- A prior conviction on your record for dealing in a controlled substance (with the exception of marijuana and derivative products)
- Manufacturing the drug yourself or financing its manufacture
- Being in possession of a firearm while committing the offense
You could be charged with firearm enhancement even if the weapon wasn’t on you at the time. Prosecutors may try to charge you with “constructive possession,” meaning that the gun was in a location accessible to you and under your control (like the glove box of your car, for instance).
Enhancements for the involvement of, or proximity to, minors
Many of the enhancing circumstances have to do with committing the drug offense with the involvement of a minor or in a place where minors are or “are reasonably expected to be” present. Examples include committing a drug offense:
- On a school bus or within 500 feet of a school
- In a public park (where kids are or may be)
- In the presence of a minor while knowing that the minor could likely see/hear the offense
- Involving delivery of drugs to a minor under 18 if the minor is at least three years younger than the alleged offender
- On the property of a juvenile facility or other penal institution
There are potential defenses to these enhancing circumstances, but they will depend on the facts of a given case. It is important to note that prosecutors will generally try to include as many charges as they can, even if some of those charges are unsupported or overstated. If charged with a drug offense, it is always in your best interests to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.