Indiana Laws on Dealing in a Controlled Substance (Sale or Delivery)

Dealing in drugs carries stiff penalties in Indiana. Learn about the crimes and penalties for the sale or delivery of drugs.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated March 08, 2021

All states (and the federal government) regulate and control the sale of controlled substances, though each differs in its exact definition of controlled substances and the penalties for selling them. Indiana considers not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine to be controlled substances but also the compounds used to manufacture them. Some controlled substances, like codeine, may be legally possessed with a valid prescription.

Classification of Controlled Substances (Drugs) in Indiana

Indiana divides its controlled substances into five "schedules" based on factors such as their potential for abuse and whether they are approved for legitimate medical use. Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, and Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and an accepted medical. This article concerns the unlawful sale of controlled substances. Separate punishments apply for persons who illegally possess a controlled substance for personal use.

(Ind. Code §§ 35-48-2-4, -6, -8, -10, -12 (2020).)

Dealing in a Controlled Substance in Indiana

Indiana's laws refer to drug sales and related offenses as dealing in a controlled substance. Dealing occurs when a person delivers or finances the delivery of a controlled substance or possesses a controlled substance with the intent to deliver it.

Delivery refers to a transaction, such as a sale, transfer, or exchange. Possession with intent to deliver typically references the situation where the amount of drugs in the defendant's possession suggests it is for sale and not personal use. To prove possession with intent to deliver rather than possession alone, the prosecutor must show that the number of drugs involved was 28 grams or more or that additional evidence exists to support the intent element, such as the police found ledgers, scales, and packaging material near the drugs.

Indiana Penalties for Dealing in Schedule I to V Controlled Substances

A person convicted of dealing in a controlled substance faces penalties based on the type and amount of drug, along with whether any enhancing circumstances exist.

Enhancing circumstances include:

  • the person has a prior conviction for dealing with a controlled substance that is not marijuana, hashish, or salvia
  • the person committed the offense while in possession of a firearm
  • the person committed the offense on a school bus, in the presence of a child, or in a correctional facility
  • the person committed the offense within 500 feet of school property or a public park or within 100 feet of a substance abuse rehabilitation facility, or
  • the person delivered or financed the delivery of the drug to a minor at least three years younger.

The penalty for a dealing crime bumps up one felony level if the crime involved an "enhancing circumstance." So, for instance, if the drug amount falls under a Level 4 felony but an enhancing circumstance was involved (say a prior conviction), the crime becomes a Level 3 felony.

The penalties by offense level can be found below in the section on "Sentences for Felony and Misdemeanor Convictions in Indiana."

Cocaine, Schedule I or II Narcotics, and Methamphetamine

Unlawful dealing in cocaine, Schedule I or II narcotic, or methamphetamine carries felony penalties.

Level 2 felony. Delivery is a Level 2 felony if:

  • the drug is heroin and involved 12 grams or more (over 90 days), or
  • for other drugs, the amount involved was 10 grams or more.

Level 3 felony. Delivery is a Level 3 felony if:

  • the drug is heroin and involved 7 grams or more but less than 12 grams (over 90 days), or
  • for other drugs, the amount involved was 5 grams or more but less than 10 grams.

Level 4 felony. Delivery is a Level 4 felony if:

  • the drug is heroin and involved 3 grams or more but less than 7 grams (over 90 days), or
  • for other drugs, the amount involved was one gram or more but less than 5 grams.

Level 5 felony. Delivery is a Level 5 felony if:

  • the drug is heroin and involved less than 3 grams (over 90 days), or
  • for other drugs, the amount involved was less than 5 grams.

Other Schedule I to V Controlled Substances

Unlawful dealing in a Schedule I to V controlled substance (not listed above and not including marijuana, hashish, hash oil, and saliva) carries felony and misdemeanor penalties. And, as described above, if a crime includes enhancing circumstances, the penalty bumps up one offense level.

Level 2 felony. Delivery is a Level 2 felony if the amount of Schedule I, II, or III drugs involved is 28 grams or more.

Level 3 felony. Delivery is a Level 3 felony if:

  • the amount of Schedule I, II, or III drugs involved is 10 grams or more but less than 28 grams, or
  • the amount of Schedule IV drugs involved is 28 grams or more.

Level 4 felony. Delivery is a Level 4 felony if:

  • the amount of Schedule I, II, or III drugs involved is 5 grams or more but less than 10 grams
  • the amount of Schedule IV drugs involved is 10 grams or more but less than 28 grams, or
  • the amount of Schedule V drugs involved is 28 grams or more.

Level 5 felony. Delivery is a Level 5 felony if:

  • the amount of Schedule I, II, or III drugs involved is one gram or more but less than 5 grams
  • the amount of Schedule IV drugs involved is 5 grams or more but less than 10 grams, or
  • the amount of Schedule V drugs involved is 10 grams or more but less than 28 grams.

Level 6 felony. Delivery is a Level 6 felony if:

  • the amount of Schedule I, II, or III drugs involved is one gram or less
  • the amount of Schedule IV drugs involved is one gram or more but less than 5 grams, or
  • the amount of Schedule V drugs involved is 5 grams or more but less than 10 grams.

Class A misdemeanor. Delivery is a Class A misdemeanor if:

  • the amount of Schedule IV drugs involved is less than one gram, or
  • the amount of Schedule V drugs involved is one gram or more but less than 5 grams.

Class B misdemeanor. Delivery is a Class B misdemeanor if the amount of Schedule V drugs is less than one gram.

(Ind. Code §§ 35-48-4-1, 35-48-4-1.1, 35-48-4-2, 35-48-4-3, 35-48-4-4 (2020).)

Dealing in Marijuana, Hashish, Hash Oil, and Salvia in Indiana

Penalties for dealing in marijuana, hash oil, hashish, and salvia are based on the amount and type of drug and whether the offender has a prior dealing conviction or delivers the drug to a minor. (The list of enhanced circumstances described for the above dealing crimes does not apply under this section.)

Level 5 felony. Delivery is a Level 5 felony if:

  • the amount of marijuana involved is 10 pounds or more
  • the amount of marijuana involved is 30 grams or more but less than 10 pounds and the offender has a prior delivery conviction
  • the amount of hash oil, hashish, or salvia is 300 grams or more
  • the amount of hash oil, hashish, or salvia is 5 grams or more but less than 300 grams and the offender has a prior delivery conviction, or
  • the offense involved a sale to a minor.

Level 6 felony. Delivery is a Level 6 felony if:

  • the amount of marijuana involved is 30 grams or more but less than 10 pounds
  • the amount of marijuana involved is less than 30 grams and the offender has a prior delivery conviction
  • the amount of hash oil, hashish, or salvia is 5 grams or more but less than 300 grams, or
  • the amount of hash oil, hashish, or salvia is less than 5 grams and the offender has a prior delivery conviction.

Class A misdemeanor. Delivery is a Class A misdemeanor if:

  • the amount of marijuana involved is less than 30 grams, or
  • the amount of hash oil, hashish, or salvia is less than 5 grams.

(Ind. Code § 35-48-4-10 (2020).)

Sentences for Felony and Misdemeanor Convictions in Indiana

Indiana law provides a minimum and maximum incarceration period for felonies, as well as an advisory (recommended) sentence between these permitted terms. All felonies carry a potential fine of up to $10,000, in addition to incarceration time.

Level 1 felony. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 20 to 40 years, with an advisory sentence of 30 years.

Level 2 felony. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 10 to 30 years, with an advisory sentence of 17½ years.

Level 3 felony. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 3 to 16 years, with an advisory sentence of 9 years.

Level 4 felony. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 2 to 12 years, with an advisory sentence of 6 years.

Level 5 felony. Punishable by a period of incarceration of one to 6 years, with an advisory sentence of 3 years.

Level 6 felony; wobbler. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 6 months to 2½ years, with an advisory sentence of one year. This offense level is sometimes referred to as a wobbler, because under certain circumstances, the court has the option to enter a judgment for a Class A misdemeanor.

Class A misdemeanor. Maximum penalty of one year's jail time and a $5,000 fine.

Class B misdemeanor. Maximum penalty of 6 months' jail time and a $1,000 fine.

Class C misdemeanor. Maximum penalty of 60 days' jail time and a $500 fine.

(Ind. Code §§ 35-50-2-4 to -7, 35-50-3-2 to -3 (2020).)

Sentencing Enhancements for Drug Dealing Crimes in Indiana

Indiana law provides stiffer penalties for certain repeat offenders and certain dealing crimes that involve firearms.

Habitual offender. If you are found to be a habitual offender, the court will sentence you to an additional fixed period of incarceration of 6 to 20 years for a Level 1 to 4 felony and 2 to 6 years for a Level 5 or 6 felony. The definition of habitual offender varies depending on the levels of one's current and past offenses and applies when an offender has two or more prior felony convictions.

Use of firearms. An offender convicted of dealing in a controlled substance (other than marijuana, hashish, hash oil, or salvia) who used a firearm or illegally possessed a handgun, sawed-off shotgun, or machine gun during the offense can face an additional fixed prison term of 5 to 20 years.

(Ind. Code §§ 35-50-2-8, -13 (2020).)

Talk to an Attorney

If you've been charged with dealing in a controlled substance, you face serious penalties that will have lifelong consequences. To understand your options and the possible outcomes of your case, you should speak to an attorney that specializes in representing criminal defendants charged with dealing crimes.

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