When you have been charged with a criminal offense in Indiana, you may be worried about your future. As you get ready to defend yourself in court, it is essential to understand what to expect from the pre-trial process to better prepare for what’s to come.
What to Expect from the Pretrial Process in Indiana
One of the biggest challenges in the criminal defense process can come from your own attorney. Far too often, criminal defense lawyers suddenly cease communications with you, fail to keep you informed about the status of your case, and otherwise leave you in the dark and unsure of what to expect from your case.
For this reason, you will want to select an attorney who is prepared to involve you in the pretrial process every step of the way. With that in mind, here is a basic idea of what you can expect from the Indiana pretrial phase.
After you have been initially charged with a criminal offense in Indiana, under Indiana Code 35-33-7-1 you must be taken before a judicial officer in the county of your arrest. Generally, this is within 48 hours, but this does not include weekends or holidays.
Your first appearance in court will be the initial hearing. If you already have a private attorney, you can enter your plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. However, if you do not have a lawyer, the court can then advise you of your right to have one appointed to you.
The initial hearing is also where the judge decides whether to grant bail. If bail is granted, your attorney can work with your family to pre-arrange payment so you can get home and start working on your defense strategy. However, if bail is not granted, you may be remanded into state custody until your trial begins.
Once you have entered your plea, discovery begins. Here, your attorney will request copies of all the prosecutor’s evidence against you. Some of the more common types of evidence that are used in criminal cases in Indiana include:
● Copies of police reports
● The prosecutor’s list of witnesses
● Physical evidence to be used against you
● Statements from witnesses and any alleged victims
● Other forensic evidence
Under the law, the prosecutor must provide your lawyer with the information they intend to use against you in any that may be exculpatory. Exculpatory evidence is often favorable to defendants and could aid in their defense strategy.
Your lawyer may also elect to take depositions, which are recorded statements under oath from potential witnesses in your case. These can be valuable tools in helping to support your defense strategy.
Any evidence your attorney is planning to use to defend your case must also be turned over to the state’s prosecutor during the discovery process of the pre-trial phase.
While the state is reviewing discovery, there may be additional evidence needed to assist in your defense or help the state in their case against you. Both parties will investigate and gather evidence to support their case at trial.
Some of the more critical aspects of the investigation process include speaking with potential witnesses, obtaining forensic evidence, submitting evidence to experts to validate the findings, obtaining photographs and video footage, and more.
Before your case goes to trial, your attorney can file pretrial motions. It is more common than you might think for the state to attempt to introduce evidence that should not be admissible at trial.
We often see this in cases where evidence may have been illegally obtained through an unlawful search. Evidence of this nature cannot be used at trial against you, so your criminal defense attorney can file a pretrial motion to have this evidence suppressed.
At any point in the pretrial process, you may have the opportunity to enter plea negotiations with the state’s prosecuting attorney. Depending on the details of your case, it may be in your best interest to plead guilty to the charge against you, agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge, or enter a pretrial diversion program and have the charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely.
However, before you enter into a plea agreement with the state, it is essential to review the details of your case with your attorney and ascertain whether accepting a plea agreement is the best option for you and your family.
Get Help from an Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
The penalties of a criminal conviction in Indiana could haunt you for the rest of your life. It is critical to get help from an experienced Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer in the pretrial phase of a criminal case if you hope to protect your future and freedom.
Schedule your confidential consultation with Hessler Law PC today when you complete our online contact form. Or, give our office a call at (317) 342-9287 to get started on your defense strategy today.