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Corrections Coming for Criminal Code Update

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

The full General Assembly will meet at the Statehouse Tuesday to make changes to the state’s criminal code overhaul before the law takes effect July first.

The bulk of Indiana’s overhaul of the criminal code was passed in 2013.  But lawmakers put off its effective date until this summer so they could make further changes during the 2014 legislative session. 

In the wake of this year’s session, legislators and prosecutors have identified a few issues, mostly involving technical errors within the more than four hundred page bill. 

One of the two most substantive corrections involves child molesters.  Under the bill, people convicted of child molestation would be required to serve at least 30 years of their sentence, rather than the 38 years the legislature intended. 

The other major correction deals with shoplifting.  Under current law, police can arrest shoplifters even if the officer didn’t personally witness the theft. 

Danville Republican Representative Greg Steuerwald says the criminal code overhaul mistakenly did away with that provision.

“The police officer would have to come there and actually write a ticket – they can’t arrest them,” Steuerwald said. “The people would go home and then the prosecutor would have to go back to the court and get an arrest warrant.  It’s a very cumbersome process and would bog down the system, in my opinion, dramatically.”

The other technical changes deal with confusion regarding drug offenses; specifically, which drug amounts result in penalty enhancements.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.