Indiana Domestic Violence Laws

Indiana law seeks to protect spouses, cohabitating partners, and children from family violence, or domestic violence. When someone attacks a loved one, even if the Indiana domestic violence criminal laws don’t apply, other Indiana laws that make the conduct illegal against a stranger can apply in a dating or intimate partnership situation.

Overview of Domestic Violence Laws

It’s illegal in Indiana to beat or abuse your spouse. This crime is called "domestic battery." Domestic battery is to intentionally touch your spouse, partner, or co-parent in a rude or angry way that results in bodily injury. If domestic battery doesn't apply due to the relationship of the individuals (for example, teens in a dating relationship), regular battery or aggravated battery may apply.

General battery is intentionally touching another in a rude or angry manner. Aggravated battery is creating a substantial risk of death or causing serious permanent disfigurement, impairment of bodily function, or loss of a fetus.

Sometimes abusers will stalk their former romantic partners, which is illegal. Indiana's criminal stalking statute outlaws repeated harassment of another that would cause a reasonable person to feel intimidated or threatened and causes the victim to feel threatened or terrorized.

Abusers can also be charged with a myriad of other crimes for their conduct done to terrorize their victims, including:

  • Criminal confinement - intentionally confining a person without his or her consent
  • Kidnapping - removing a person by fraud, force, or threat to another place
  • Rape – having oral, anal, or vaginal sex by force, threat, or while the victim was incapacitated. Aggravating factors include using deadly force or weapon, causing serious bodily injury, or using date rape drugs.

Penalties and Sentencing

The penalties for domestic violence related charges in Indiana depend on several aggravating factors. Generally, domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor. However, it's a Level 6 felony (lowest felony level) if the person has a prior domestic battery conviction or it was committed in front of a child under 16 who could have seen or heard the incident.

Basic battery is typically a Class B misdemeanor. In comparison, aggravated battery is a Level 3 felony, unless it results in the death of a child under 14 by a defendant at least 18 years old, then it's a Level 1 felony.

Criminal stalking is a Level 6 felony offense, but is upgraded to a Level 5 felony if:

  • The stalker threatens sexual battery, serious bodily injury, or death
  • A domestic violence protection order has been issued to protect the victim from the stalker
  • A divorce, paternity, juvenile court, workplace violence, or similar judicial order has been issued to protect the victims
  • The stalking violates a pretrial release or no-contact probation condition

Criminal stalking is a Level 4 felony when the act is committed while the person has a deadly weapon or has a prior stalking conviction against the same victim.

The sentence ranges in Indiana for the felony and misdemeanor crimes described above are:

  • Level 1 Felony - 20-40 years incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Level 2 Felony - 10-30 years incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Level 3 Felony - 3-16 years incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Level 4 Felony - 2-12 years incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Level 5 Felony - 1-6 years incarceration and a fine up to $10,000
  • Level 6 Felony - 6 months to 2.5 years incarceration and a fine up to $10,000
  • Class A Misdemeanor - up to 1 year incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000
  • Class B Misdemeanor - up to 180 days incarceration and a fine of up to a $1,000

Code Sections

Indiana Code Section 35-42-1-3 Domestic Battery

What is Prohibited?

Intentionally touching your spouse, partner, or co-parent in a rude or angry way that results in bodily injury

Penalty

The sentencing range for domestic battery can range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 1 felony, depending on the circumstances.

Defenses

 


  • Innocence- You didn't do it.
  • Self-Defense&– Often used when an abuser was injured by the victim who was trying to protect himself or herself from greater harm, also known as "battered woman syndrome." Abused children may be able to assert a “battered child syndrome” defense.
  • Injuries was from an Accident - If your family member has injuries, but you know they came from an accident, such falling from a crack in the sidewalk, you can testify and present evidence on what happened.
  • For Child Abuse Accusations - Parental Rights - If you spanked your child in a manner permitted in Indiana or your religion requires you to keep your child from public school at a certain age, etc., you can assert your parental rights. See the Child Abuse Defenses article for more information.
  • For Sex Crimes - Consent – This sex crimes defense is used to show that the person you had sexual conduct with was capable and did consent to the sexual conduct.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- it's important to verify the state law(s) you’re researching.

Related Resources

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