Governor signs Washburne’s criminal offenses bill into law

Posted by: Brenda Holmes  | Thursday, June 1, 2017

STATEHOUSE (June 1, 2017) — Gov. Eric Holcomb today ceremonially signed a new law authored by State Rep. Tom Washburne (R-Evansville) that updates Indiana’s criminal statutes to increase public safety.

House Enrolled Act 1406 includes multiple provisions to combat the trade in dangerous narcotics. Washburne’s legislation also addresses various criminal sentencing issues, including domestic violence, protecting children and obstruction of justice.  

“It is not uncommon for a bill to pick up many provisions as it moves through the process and I was pleased that my original legislation was a good place for many good ideas to come to fruition,” said Washburne, chair of the House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code. “I would like to thank Governor Holcomb, all the lawmakers and stakeholders I worked with on this bill to hopefully make Indiana a safer place to live.”

The law contains an enhancement to help combat the heroin epidemic sweeping Indiana, the legislation creates sentencing enhancements for the very worst dealers. If dealers are trafficking in 7.0 to 12.0 grams of heroin, the offense is enhanced to a Level 3 felony. If they exceed 12.0 grams, the offense is enhanced to a Level 2 felony. To punish repeat offenders, dealing in heroin will be enhanced to a nonsuspendible Level 2 or Level 3 felony for those with a prior felony conviction. This provision was championed by State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) and State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon).

The measure also creates a better delineation between manufacturing and dealing in methamphetamine.  The new law separates dealing and manufacturing and provides that a person who knowingly or intentionally manufactures or finances the manufacture of the drug commits a newly redefined Level 4 felony. The charge is enhanced to a Level 3 felony if 5.0 to 9.9 grams are involved, or up to a Level 2 felony if over 10.0 grams are involved.  

The policy helps with the prevention of drug-related felons from purchasing and possessing methamphetamine precursors. The act prevents those that have been previously convicted of a drug-related felony from purchasing pseudoephedrine, a key methamphetamine ingredient, and punishes them for unlawfully possessing methamphetamine precursors. Before, these prohibitions were limited to offenders with only methamphetamine-related convictions.

The new law enhances the crime of obstruction of justice to a Level 5 felony if a person interferes with a witness during the investigation or trial of a domestic violence or child abuse case. The law also adds to the preexisting crime of strangulation the aggressive application of pressure to a victim’s torso. It enhances the penalty for strangulation to a Level 5 felony if the offender knew the victim was pregnant at the time. These provisions were brought forth by State Rep. Julie Olthoff (R-Crown Point).

The law increases the penalties for contributing to the delinquency of a minor if the person who commits the offense is at least 21 years of age, the child involved is less than 16 years of age and the child commits a delinquent act that would otherwise be a misdemeanor or felony if committed by an adult. This provision was added by State Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford).

The law will go into effect on July 1. For more information on this legislation, visit iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Tom Washburne represents Gibson County

and portions of Knox, Pike, Vanderburgh and Posey counties.

 

A high-resolution photo of Washburne can be downloaded by clicking here.

A high-resolution photo of the bill signing is attached to the email.

Suggested photo cutline/caption below.

ENHANCING PUBLIC SAFETY: Gov. Eric Holcomb (seated, center) signs a bill into law Thursday, June 1, 2017, authored by State Rep. Tom Washburne (seated, right) updating several criminal statutes. The Evansville lawmaker led efforts to increase penalties for the worst drug dealers and combat the state’s sweeping heroin epidemic.