Criminal Charges

Get legal advice for criminal charges

Student Legal Services cannot represent you in a criminal matter, but we can give you the information and advice you need to deal with a criminal charge and stay on track academically.

Most students who are charged with a crime are first-time offenders and are facing low-level charges (misdemeanors) such as illegal consumption of alcohol, public intoxication, or possession of a small quantity of marijuana. In most of these cases, the student is going to be offered the opportunity to participate in Monroe County’s Pretrial Diversion Program (PDP).

Pretrial diversion

PDP is a great option for first-time offenders who don’t really have a defense against the charge. It is a voluntary program offered on some low-level charges and allows a defendant to avoid a criminal conviction on their record by completing a specific set of requirements.

Upon successful completion of the program, the defendant’s charges will be dismissed. No guilty plea is entered when you participate in PDP.

Successful completion of the Pretrial Diversion Program avoids a conviction (a finding or admission of guilt) on your record, but you will still have a criminal record. It will show that you were charged with a crime, that you entered into PDP, and that the charge was dismissed.

If you have been charged with a crime, or have completed PDP and wish to expunge your record, we can help. Schedule your appointment today.

Felony charges

Higher-level charges (felonies) and some misdemeanors are not eligible for PDP. If you have been charged with a crime, no matter what it is, contact us. We will help guide you through the process and will refer you to a local criminal defense attorney when appropriate.

Understand your criminal charges

In the meantime, our legal interns can help you understand the accusations being made against you and give helpful tips for navigating the criminal justice system. All legal interns are second- and third-year law students from the IU Maurer School of Law who are supervised by licensed attorneys.

Alcohol charges

It is illegal to provide or furnish (give) alcohol to a minor (someone under the age of 21).

If you purchase alcohol for someone under the legal drinking age, or if you host a party and fail to make a serious inquiry into the age of people drinking, you may be charged.

Minors don’t have to be intoxicated to be charged with illegal consumption of alcohol. Any amount, even a drop, is illegal if you are under 21, and can result in criminal charges.

This means that if you are breathalyzed and any alcohol is found in your system, even if you are well below the legal limit for driving, you can be charged with illegal consumption.

If you are underage and the police see you drinking alcohol, you can be charged.

It is illegal in Indiana for anyone under the age of 21 to possess alcohol.

If you’re not 21 or older, just holding a container of beer may result in criminal charges.

Minors who drive on public roads with alcohol in their vehicles, without having a parent or guardian present, can be charged with illegal transportation of alcohol. This is true even if the container isn’t open, even if it’s locked in the trunk, and even if you have no intention of opening it.

Your driver’s license may be suspended for up to a year if you illegally possess alcohol while operating a vehicle, even if the container is closed.

Minors are most commonly at risk for illegal transportation offenses when they drive their of-age friends to the liquor store to buy alcohol and are stopped by the police afterward.

It is illegal to be intoxicated in a public place if you are endangering your life or the life of another person, if you’re breaching the peace, or if you are harassing, annoying, or alarming another person.

A public place is any area that is accessible to the general public. Public places include, but are not limited to:

  • Sidewalks
  • Streets
  • Parking lots
  • Common areas in apartment buildings and hotels
  • Automobiles in public places

If you attend a party where drugs are being used (even if you aren’t using them), you can be charged with the crime of “Visiting a Common Nuisance,” a misdemeanor.

If any illegal drugs are being used at your party, even if you aren’t using them and don’t know they’re there, you can still be charged with a crime called “Maintaining a Common Nuisance.” This is a felony—a more serious charge than a misdemeanor—and carries more severe penalties.

Criminal traffic offenses

Indiana state law requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties that may include monetary fines and jail time. Under Indiana’s tort system, you may also be liable for actual damages (expenses associated with property damage and medical costs), economic damages (lost wages and earning capacity) and emotional and physical pain and suffering.

Indiana allows you to drive with your valid out of state or home country license. As long as you are in Indiana to obtain a degree, and aren’t planning to stay here, you are not legally required to get an Indiana driver’s license.

If you have been charged with driving without a valid driver’s license, come to Student Legal Services for help.

It is a crime to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. There is no minimum level of blood alcohol required for a finding of intoxication, but if your blood alcohol level is above .08 you can be charged with a separate offense. If your blood alcohol level is above .15, the police believe you were endangering others, or you have a previous OWI offense on your record, the charges and penalties may be more severe.

Your driver’s license will be suspended automatically if you are charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

If you are charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you will probably not be offered Pretrial Diversion. Come to Student Legal Services to learn more about the charge and penalties, and to be referred to a local criminal defense attorney.

A speeding ticket can be charged as a criminal misdemeanor if you were traveling at an excessively high rate of speed. Other examples of driving that may be charged as reckless include passing a school bus when it is stopped and has the arm signal device extended, and refusing to let another driver pass safely. Reckless driving can be charged at a higher level, and can result in loss of your driver’s license, if the behavior causes bodily harm.

Other common charges

It is a crime to possess a fake ID, whether you have made or purchased a perfect replica, altered an existing ID, or simply borrowed one from someone who looks like you and tried to pass it off as your own.

If you try to use a fake ID, you may face criminal penalties and a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Possession of a fake ID can be charged under the forgery statute as a felony.

It is also a crime to provide your ID to a minor so that the minor may attempt to buy alcohol.

Urinating in public can result in a criminal charge for public nudity, whether you opt to do so in an alley, parking lot, or public fountain. The penalties are harsher if you are in a public park or schoolyard.

Likewise, whether you’re doing a private act in public or showing off your body, you may be arrested for the more-serious charge of public indecency.

If you are caught shoplifting in Indiana, you will be charged with theft. How you are charged depends on the value of the item stolen, and whether you have prior offenses on your record. If you are charged with shoplifting/theft, come to Student Legal Services for help in navigating the system and figuring out your options, and to get a referral if necessary.

a smartphone screen with the numbers 911

Indiana Lifeline Law

We urge students to look out for each other, both on and off university property. The Indiana Lifeline Law gives immunity for minor alcohol offenses to people who are seeking medical assistance for a person suffering from an alcohol-related health emergency.

Read more about the Lifeline Law