Delaware County, Indiana

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Prosecutor's Frequently Asked Questions

 
How do I file charges against someone?
Criminal charges generally begin with an investigation by a police agency. The Delaware County Prosecutor's Office will conduct investigations regarding Bad Checks through our Bad Check Program. However, most other criminal activity will be referred to a police agency. Our office will assist persons in determining the appropriate agency to make a report.
 
What is the other name I keep hearing for the child support division?
The child support division is also called the IV-D Office, because the rules and regulations governing the office were enacted by Congress and are incorporated in Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
 
How do I get a Restraining Order?
The Delaware County Prosecutor's Office through Victim Advocates may obtain a Restraining or Protective Order for the victims of violent crime as part of filing charges. Where appropriate, witnesses will also be covered by protective orders. Without the filing of charges, or where no crime of violence is involved, a private citizen can obtain a Restraining Order through the Delaware County Clerk, whose offices are located in the Delaware County Justice Center.  The Clerk has an information packet which will assist a person to obtain a Restraining Order. There is a Court cost which must be paid as part of filing for a Restraining Order through the Clerk.
 
Do I need an attorney to get a protective order?
It is not necessary to have an attorney to get a protective order, but you can if you wish.
 
How do I get a protective order?
There are two types of protective orders - a civil protective order and a protective order issued through a criminal case.
A civil protective order can be obtained from the Delaware County Clerk's Office for a $35.00 fee. However, if someone is in need of a protective order but cannot afford one, they can file an Affidavit of Indigence and still obtain a protective order.  A protective order issued through a criminal case is free. This order is requested by the Prosecutor's Office as a condition of the defendant's pre-trial release or sentence. Once the protective orders have been filed, a copy will be distributed to the Delaware County Sheriff's Department and any other municipalities which need to be aware of the protective order.
 
How can I start using the Prosecutor's Office to get my child support?
Any custodial parent who is receiving TANF benefits (formerly AFDC payments) from the State of Indiana has assigned their child support rights to the State of Indiana, and must cooperate in trying to establish, enforce or modify a child support order for their children. The child support payments in these cases reimburses the State for benefits received by the children. The parent will receive letters and notifications from the child support division concerning their case, and may have to make an appointment to discuss their case. When the custodial parent is no longer receiving TANF benefits, the child support amount for current child support will be directed to him/her.
 
My husband/boyfriend was arrested for domestic battery, but we just had a misunderstanding and I want to drop the charges.....
Once a person contacts a police agency regarding the commission of the crime, and causes another person to be arrested and charged, the case becomes the property of the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office. Our office policy is that once a person is charged, they are prosecuted, regardless of whether the victim has changed his/her mind.  In exceptional cases, victims who complete an educational program through Victims Advocate may ask that we dismiss the case.
 
What is the status of a case? Can you tell me my next court date?
Your best source of information regarding future Court dates is your attorney, the Delaware County Clerk, or the Court itself. Court schedules are created by the Court staff, and are subject to change; the Court possesses the most current information on its own calendar.

 
I got a subpoena in the mail. Why do I have to testify....this is really inconvenient for me.....do I get paid?
Witnesses to crimes are sometimes required to appear personally in Court to tell what happened. Although it may be inconvenient, the cornerstone of a free society is the willingness of persons to appear in Court so that the truth about a crime can be known. Witnesses are not compensated for lost wages or other incidental expenses involved in testifying.
 
Can I talk to the Prosecutor about my case?
That depends. Are you a victim or a defendant? Prosecuting attorneys are ethically forbidden to speak with defendants about their cases; the only exception is in the Courtroom when the Judge is presiding over the case. If you are a victim, you are entitled to, and should be able to speak to the Prosecuting Attorney handling the case. However, Prosecutors have many other cases to handle, and while your case is important to our office, you should keep in mind that the Prosecuting Attorney's time is his or her most cherished asset. Please keep your inquiries brief and to the point  Victims should utilize the services of a Victim's Advocate before contacting a prosecutor. .
 
How long does it take for my child support to start coming?
There is no specific time frame within which the IV-D office will be successful in collecting child support for you. It depends on the circumstances of the non-custodial parent and the information that you are able to provide for the office. If you know of an employer, and there is an existing child support order, it can be a fairly quick process. If you have very little information about the non-custodial parent, we may not be able to locate or enforce your order. We need as much information as possible, including address, social security number, and identifiers, such as height, weight, hair color, eye color, date of birth, and picture (if possible). Also, if the non-custodian has other children, we need to know their approximate ages and whether or not there is a child support order for those children.
 
What can I do if I want to stop using IV-D services?
You can call or stop by the office and sign a document that will be sent to the State Child Support Bureau. The Prosecutor's Office will then withdraw from your case as an attorney of record. At that time all IV-D services stop. If you need future enforcement of your child support order, you will have to use a private attorney, or reapply for IV-D services.
 
Can I get a Prosecutor's explanation of a law or get legal advice from a Prosecutor?
The office of the Prosecuting Attorney will give legal advice on criminal matters to police agencies. Although the Prosecuting Attorney can give general advice on whether certain facts would constitute the commission of a crime, our office is generally reluctant to do so on individual cases to private citizens. Often people seeking a favorable opinion will give a distorted version of the facts; a full investigation by a police agency may reveal grounds for prosecution which were not disclosed to our office. In addition, no opinion given can be construed as immunity from prosecution. The Delaware County Prosecutor's Office cannot give legal advice on civil matters; all civil legal questions should be referred to a competent private attorney.
 
What is a warrant?
A warrant is an order signed by a Judge authorizing the police to arrest a person believed to have committed a crime.
 
The non-custodial parent of my child(ren) works for cash and has never held a job for over 3 months. He has never paid a cent on his child support order. Can you help me get child support from him?
It is difficult to track down and enforce against such an irresponsible parent. However, it is not impossible. We use all means possible to get that person into court on a contempt citation. The courts can punish a payer for contempt in various ways, including incarceration. When punishments are ordered, we often see the payer change his attitude. They may even start taking a greater interest in their child(ren) when they accept the responsibility for assisting with their support.

 
Do I have to let the non-custodian of my child(ren) have visitation when child support is never paid?
Yes, visitation is an entirely different issue than child support. A non-custodial parent can file a contempt citation for refusal of the custodian to permit or arrange visitation, just like a custodial parent can file a contempt citation for non-payment of child support. If you have a good reason for not wanting visitation to occur, you should talk to a private attorney about filing a motion to modify the visitation order.
 
What happens after a person (the defendant) has been arrested?
The defendant is brought before the court for an initial hearing. The defendant is given a copy of the charging information. The charge is read out loud to the defendant. Normally, the Judge automatically enters a plea of "not guilty." Bail is then set; a determination is made as to the defendant's ability to pay for an attorney. If the defendant is unable to pay for an attorney, the court will appoint one. Finally, the court will set pre-trial conference and jury trial dates.
 
What is a pre-trial conference and do I need to attend?
A pre-trial conference is held to determine if there are any motions which need to be ruled on; make sure the prosecutor and the defense attorney have exchanged appropriate documents; and basically make sure that everyone is on track for the trial. Some times pre-trial conferences are handled by conference calls; however, some Judges require a formal pre-trial conference at which the defendant is required to appear. The victim does not need to appear.
 
What is the difference between a bench trial and a jury trial?
A bench trial is a trial before a Judge without a jury. A jury trial is a trial before a Judge with a jury consisting of either six or twelve jurors (with alternates).
 
Do I have to attend the trial?
Yes. Approximately two to three weeks prior to the scheduled trial date you should receive a subpoena to appear in court.
 
What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is a court order which instructs the recipient to appear in court at a designated date and time.
 
What happens if I ignore the subpoena and/or otherwise fail to appear in court as ordered?
The court may issue a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear.
 
Am I allowed to be present in the courtroom during the trial?
Only if there is no "separation of witness order." Usually witnesses are not allowed to be in the courtroom until after they have finished testifying. You should ask the prosecutor handling your case if a separation order has been filed.
 
How will I know if the trial date has changed?
We will attempt to notify you as soon as we become aware of any changes. However, your subpoena provides you with a contact person and telephone number to call the day before you are scheduled to appear in court. At that time you will be informed if the trial date has changed.
 
What happens if someone tries to intimidate me into dropping the charges and/or not testifying?
Intimidating, threatening and/or harassing a state's witness is a criminal offense. You should immediately contact the police officer or detective in charge of your case. An arrest warrant may be issued and the defendant's bail could be revoked. The defendant would then remain incarcerated during the pendency of the trial.
 
What if the defendant's attorney or some other individual acting on behalf of the defendant contacts me about the case?
These individuals have the right to contact you; however, you also have the right not to talk with them. We request that you contact the prosecutor handling your case prior to talking with anyone acting on behalf of the defendant. We prefer that you only do so in our presence. You should also always ask for identification from the individual(s) wanting to talk to you.
 
What if I decide to drop the charges and/or not to testify?
You cannot drop charges - only the prosecutor may do so. You may forward a written statement to the prosecutor handling your case stating the reasons for wanting the charges dropped for the prosecutor's review and consideration. If you choose not to testify, you may jeopardize the case which could ultimately result in the defendant going free.
 
What happens if the defendant either pleads guilty or is found guilty by a judge or jury?
The case will be set for sentencing, usually about thirty days from the date of the guilty plea. Sometimes a defendant will waive the thirty day period. During this time the probation department will prepare a Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSI Report). The probation officer assigned to the case should contact all victims and ask for their input and feelings about the defendant.
 
What is restitution?
The court may order a person convicted of a crime to make restitution to the victim, the victim's estate, or to the family of a victim who is deceased for certain expenses related to the crime.

 
What expenses can be reimbursed?
The court may consider property damages; medical and hospital expenses; lost earnings and funeral, burial or cremation costs
 
Do I need documentation?
Requests for restitution should be documented with receipts and/or estimates. For lost wages a wage loss letter is required from the victim's employer and should be on the employer's letterhead.
 
How do I request restitution?
You should submit all documentation of uninsured expenses relating to the crime to the Prosecutor's Office as soon as possible. The Prosecutor must have the documentation prior to the defendant being sentenced.
 
What is a Victim Impact Statement?
You have a right to make an oral or written statement to the Court after the defendant is convicted but before the defendant is sentenced about how you were affected by this crime - emotionally, physically and financially. The statement may also include your feelings as to what punishment you think is appropriate for the crime committed, including restitution
 
When do I submit my Victim Impact Statement?
Once a defendant has either entered into a guilty plea or been convicted at a trial the case moves on to a sentencing hearing. Your Victim Impact Statement MUST be received prior to the sentencing hearing. If you wish to be present at the sentencing hearing to orally present your statement, please contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator and/or the Prosecutor assigned to your case so that the Prosecutor is aware of your desire to address the Court.
 
What about insurance?
The Court has the final say as to whether or not restitution will be ordered in a case. If you have insurance, you may want to submit your claim for any losses to your insurance carrier. Any uninsured expenses may then be requested as restitution.

 
What happens after restitution is ordered?
All restitution payments are to be made through the Delaware County Clerk's Office. The Clerk will then issue a check to the victim(s). It is the victim's responsibility to notify the Clerk's Office of any change in address.
 
What if the defendant doesn't pay?
You should contact the Delaware County Probation Department and advise the defendant's probation officer of the defendant's failure to pay. If the defendant has not paid restitution in full by the time the defendant is off probation, the restitution order becomes a judgment lien. You should contact a private attorney for advice on collecting on the judgment.
 
What is a protective order?
A protective order is a court order which instructs the defendant to have no contact, direct or indirect, with a victim

 
How long is the Protective Order valid?
A civil protective order is valid for one year from the date it is issued. The order may be renewed for up to one additional year if proved necessary.
A protective order issued as a result of criminal proceedings is valid during the time the case is pending in Court. Once the case is closed (either by conviction or acquittal) the protective order as a condition of pre-trial release must be terminated. However, if the defendant is convicted, a new protective order as a condition of sentencing may be issued. This protective order is valid for the duration of the defendant's sentence. Once the defendant is no longer serving his sentence, the protective order must be terminated. At this time, if you still desire a protective order against the defendant, you must request a civil protective order.
 
Once I get my protective order, what should I do with it?
You should always carry a copy of the protective order with you. If the defendant would happen to violate the protective order and the police are called to respond, you will have your copy to show the police officer.
 
What if the defendant violates the protective order?
You should immediately contact your local law enforcement agency and advise them that you have a protective order and that the defendant is violating it. An officer should investigate the complaint and the defendant may be arrested or issued a citation and summonsed to court.