Indiana Criminal Defense Lawyer
Often times a criminal case begins when a person is arrested. An arrest is defined in the Indiana Code as "the taking of a person into custody that he may be held to answer for a crime". An arrest can take place when a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a person has committed a felony or when the officer has observed what he or she believes to have been a misdemeanor committed in his or her presence. An arrest can also be made after a court issues an arrest warrant. A person who is arrested has the right to consult with an attorney prior to answering any questions or providing any information to the arresting officer or other law enforcement officials. Some persons facing arrest may believe that the time of his or her arrest may be an opportunity to explain his or her side of the story or to clear up some perceived misunderstanding or mistaken belief of the arresting officers. In most cases, however, it is usually in an arrested person's best interest not to make a statement until he or she has had an opportunity to consult with an attorney.
Although a law enforcement officer has the
power to make an arrest, being arrested does not necessarily mean a person has been charged with a crime. In
If formal charges are filed prior to a defendant being arrested, the State can ask the court to issue an arrest warrant for the defendant on the charges, allowing law enforcement officers to locate and arrest the defendant. To issue an arrest warrant the court must make a determination that probable cause for the charge exists. Arrest is not required however. The State may instead request that a summons be issued, advising the defendant, generally by mail, of the charge and ordering him to appear in court on a specific date.
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime there are steps and procedures that you can expect to face in the
process. This page gives a basic overview of some of the basic aspects of a criminal case in
For all criminal charges except murder, a person arrested in
A bond is essentially something of value which is pledged as collateral against the defendant's return to court as ordered. If
the defendant posts bond and later fails to appear, the bond can be forfeited.
A property bond is one is which the court allows a bond to be secured by the value of real estate owned by the defendant or another person posting the bond on his behalf. A property bond is essentially a lien on the real property which makes it subject to forfeiture if the defendant fails to appear. To post a property bond the poster must be able to establish ownership of the property, as well as the value of the property less encumbrances. Not all courts allow the posting of a property bond.
In addition to a bond, the court can also place other restrictions on the defendant as a condition of pretrial release. These conditions can include periodic reporting to the court or a pretrial release officer, drug testing or restrictions on travel.
Once the amount of bail has been set, a defendant may ask the court to review the amount of the bail. His or her attorney can file a written motion with the court for a "bond reduction". If the defendant can make a showing of good cause as to why the amount of bail is excessive the court can order the amount of the bail reduced.
This is only a brief overview of what a person can expect when arrested and charged with a criminal offense in
Indiana Code 35-33-7-1 requires that an arrested person be taken "promptly" before a judicial officer in the county
where the arrest is made or where venue for the case is presumed to be. This first appearance is known as an "initial hearing". The
statute does not define "promptly", but most courts have said that an initial hearing within 48 hours is reasonable, although longer
periods (such has over a weekend or a holiday) have been approved as well. For a person who has posted bond prior to his initial
hearing, the statute provides that an initial hearing be scheduled within 20 days of his arrest. Despite this requirement, in
most instances a failure to schedule an initial hearing within the time limit will not result in a dismissal of the charges and would
not invalidate a later conviction. It is at the hearing that a defendant will be informed of the charge or charges against him and
advised of his rights as a defendant. If he or she does not have an attorney, the court will generally inquire as to his or
her intention to hire an attorney and will advise him of his right to have an attorney appointed if he cannot afford to hire private
counsel. If the defendant expresses an inability to hire a lawyer, the court will inquire as to his or her financial status
and determine if a public defender should be appointed. If the defendant expresses an intent to hire a lawyer, the court will
generally set a time limit of an attorney to be hired. Keep in mind that even when a public defender is appointed, a defendant
can still hire counsel of his or her choosing at a later date if financially able to do so. The court cannot prevent a defendant
from hiring counsel of his choosing, although if a case close to a trial date or other important court date, the court in many cases
will not continue the trial or other court dates to allow a new lawyer to prepare.
In most cases a preliminary plea of not guilty is entered on the defendant's behalf. Some courts will permit a defendant to plead guilty as his initial hearing. However, it is not generally advisable to do so, since the defendant may not have an attorney to advise him and even if he does, the attorney will not have been able to evaluate the case. Some defendants may be concerned that entering a "not guilty" plea will be used against them later or make them look somehow dishonest if they should choose later to admit their guilt and plead guilty. This is not the case. Entering a not guilty plea at an initial hearing will not effect one's ability to later plead guilty should that become necessary. It is almost always in a defendant's best interest to enter a not guilty plea at the initial hearing and allow time for the charges and the evidence to be evaluated. In many instances an initial hearing on a misdemeanor charge can be waived if the defendant is not in custody, has an attorney and his attorney filed a written waiver of the initial hearing.