Delaware County, Indiana

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Eric Hoffman,
Prosecuting Attorney

100 W Main St
Suite 312
Muncie, IN 47305
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  • Phone: (765) 747-7801
  • Fax: (765) 747-7830
  • Staff Directory
  • Office Hours:
    8:30 am - 12:00 pm 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm Monday - Friday

In this Department

The Indiana Criminal Justice System

Courtroom

A criminal case often takes far longer than people expect. In order to better help you understand the process, we are providing the following brief roadmap to show how a case moves through the criminal justice system. If you should have any questions about the status of your case, you are welcome to contact the Prosecutor’s Office.

 Reporting of a crime

Once the police receive a report of a crime, they begin an investigation that will be used to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the suspect committed a crime. If the officer finds there is probable cause, then the suspect can be arrested at the scene, or a warrant or summons can be requested for the suspect’s arrest.

Filing of charges

The Delaware County Prosecutor's Office receives a variety of police investigations. These investigations can range from the relatively straightforward (but unfortunately too common) street arrest for criminal activity witnessed by the uniformed officer, such as a Operating While Intoxicated, to very complex investigations involving several detectives gathering information over a substantial period of time. These investigations will ordinarily involve much more serious criminal activity, such as murder. A  long period of time may be required to untangle a complex web of criminal activity, such as a white collar fraud scheme. Even though at times it may appear to the public that the police or the prosecutor is slow in acting on allegations of criminal activity, there is often a great deal of time consuming work necessary to collect all of the evidence necessary to file a criminal charge.

 The information gathered by the police about the crime will be given to the Prosecutor’s Office. It is the Prosecutor’s job to review the information and file any criminal charges that are legally appropriate and supported by the facts, keeping in mind that charges must be proven to a jury or court beyond a reasonable doubt. Once charges are filed, the suspect becomes known as a defendant for the rest of the case. Please note, often the Prosecutor’s Office may ask the victim how they would like to see the case resolved. Your opinion is important to us. But ultimately, only the Prosecutor has the authority to file or dismiss any charges. All crimes are an issue between the State of Indiana, represented by the Prosecutor’s Office, and the defendant. Resolution of the case will depend on what these two parties choose to do.

Once formal criminal charges are filed, you see what is happening in any given case by conducting a search on mycase.

Protective orders

The Muncie Police Department Victim Advocate’s office can assist you in obtaining a protective order.  If you have questions about what a protective order will and will not provide, call the MPD Victim Advocate at 765-747-4777.

Initial hearing

The initial hearing is the first courtroom proceeding that involves the accused person and is held soon after an arrest or the filing of formal charges. At the initial hearing, the judge:

  • Reads the criminal charge(s) against the person (now called the "defendant");
  • Advises the defendant of his or her legal rights and explains the charges;
  • Determines if the person is indigent and needs counsel appointed (a public defender);
  • Determines the amount of bail;
  • Enters a preliminary plea of not guilty; and
  • Sets an "omnibus date" which becomes the controlling date for the filing of motions and other pleadings

If the defendant is deemed indigent (unable to pay for counsel), then a public defender may be appointed to represent the defendant. At some point before the omnibus date, the prosecutor generally provides the defendant and his or her attorney copies of police reports and any other documents relevant to the case.

Plea agreements

After the initial hearing, the defendant may seek a "plea agreement," a type of settlement where the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge or a lesser sentence. The vast majority of criminal cases are resolved by plea agreement. In those cases, the judge reviews the plea and questions the defendant in open court to determine if the plea is voluntary.

If there has been no plea agreement, the defense often files one or more pretrial motions, including:

  • To change the judge;
  • To dismiss the case because the offense was not stated sufficiently, the facts do not constitute an offense, the defendant has immunity, a double jeopardy bar exists, the charge is untimely, etc.
  • To suppress or exclude certain evidence as improperly obtained.

The Defendant must notify the prosecutor and court if she or he intends to use certain defenses such as mental competency, insanity, or alibi. Mental health information may become public in criminal cases where competency to stand trial or insanity becomes an issue.

During the “discovery process” the prosecutor must give the defense his list of witnesses and provide the defendant’s attorney with witness statements, police reports, exhibits etc.  The defendant has a similar duty to provide discovery to the prosecutor.

Unless the charges are dismissed or a plea bargain is entered and accepted by the court, the case then proceeds to trial.

Trial

In a criminal trial, a jury examines the evidence to decide whether the prosecutor has proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant committed the crime(s) charged. The defendant is not required to take the witness stand or present any evidence and, at no time during the trial, may the prosecutor or judge comment about the defendant's decision not to testify or present evidence. After the prosecutor has presented evidence and the defendant has had an opportunity to present evidence, both sides present argument and the jury considers as a group whether to find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the crime(s) charged. Jury verdicts in Indiana must be unanimous.

 A criminal trial commonly consists of:

  • Jury Selection
  • Preliminary Jury Instructions
  • Opening Statements
  • Presentation of Evidence
  • Closing Arguments
  • Jury Instructions
  • Jury Deliberation and Verdict

Because the government has the "burden of proof" as to the Defendant's guilt, the prosecutor is allowed to present the first opening statement and the last closing argument to the jury. Criminal trials are open to the public.

Sentencing

After a conviction, whether through a guilty plea or jury verdict, the appropriate legal punishment is determined at the sentencing hearing and imposed by the judge. Indiana has adopted a system of determinate sentencing in which the judge selects a sentence between statutory maximums and minimums for each class of crime. See the charts below for the possibly penalty ranges in Indiana:

Sentencing ranges for crimes committed prior to July 1, 2014

CLASS MINIMUM ADVISORY MAXIMUM FINE
Murder 45 years 55 years 65 years $10,000
A Felony 20 years 30 years 50 years $10,000
B Felony 6 years 10 years 20 years $10,000
C Felony 2 years 4 years 8 years $10,000
D Felony 6 months 1.5 years 3 years $10,000
A Misdemeanor 0 0 1 year $5,000
B Misdemeanor 0 0 180 days $1,000
C Misdemeanor 0 0 60 days $500

Sentencing ranges for crimes committed prior to July 1, 2014*

LEVEL MINIMUM ADVISORY MAXIMUM FINE
Murder 45 years (33.75) 55 years (41.25) 65 years (48.75) $10,000
Level 1 Felony 20 years (15) 30 years (22.5) 50 years (30) $10,000
Level 2 Felony 10 years (7.5) 17.5 years (13) 30 years (22.5) $10,000
Level 3 Felony 3 years (2.25) 9 years (6.75) 16 years (12) $10,000
Level 4 Felony 2 years (1.5) 6 years (4.5) 12 years (9) $10,000
Level 5 Felony 1 year (.75) 3 years (2.25) 6 years (4.5) $10,000
Level 6 Felony 6 months (3) 1 year (6 mo) 2.5 years (1.25) $10,000
Class A Misdemeanor 0 0 1 year $5,000
Class B Misdemeanor 0 0 180 days $1,000
Class C Misdemeanor 0 0 60 days $500

* Number of years in ( ) indicates the sentence in actual calendar years

taking into account good time credit.

In certain situations, the Prosecutor can allege that the defendant is eligible to have the sentence that the judge imposes on certain offenses increased based upon the defendant's prior criminal history or the specific facts of the case.  These are called sentencing enhancements.  Below is a table with available sentencing enhancements.

Sentencing Enhancement Table

Enhancement Penalty Range
Habitual Offender Murder and Levels 1 - 4 6 - 20 years
Levels 5 and 6 2 - 6 years
Use of a firearm during crime against the person 5 - 20 years
Use of a firearm during a drug deal 2 - 10 years
Repeat sex offender 1 - 10 years
Criminal gang enhancement Additional term equal to sentence imposed

When determining what particular sentence to impose, the judge takes a lot of factors into account, such as prior criminal arrests and convictions, seriousness of the offense, and victim impact statements.

Sentencing usually takes place very soon after convictions for infractions and minor misdemeanors. In more complex criminal cases, such as those involving felonies, the sentencing judge usually receives input from the prosecutor, the defense, and the probation department (which prepares recommendations in a "pre-sentence investigation report").  The pre-sentence investigation report is shared with the defendant, and the defense has a chance to respond to it before sentencing. The sentencing hearing is public, but the pre-sentence report is confidential.  In those cases, sentencing typically occurs within thirty (30) days of conviction.

The sentencing hearing is an opportunity for a victim to express how you have been affected by the crime. As a victim, you have the right to present a Victim Impact Statement to the court regarding the thoughts and feelings you have concerning your case. You are not required to make a statement, but some victims find it to be helpful in the healing process. This statement can be done verbally, or if you would prefer, you can write out a statement and read it in court or have it read in court, or you can submit it to the court’s probation officer who will forward it to the judge for consideration.

Many victims experience some type of financial loss as a result of the crime committed against them, such as physical injuries, damage to property, or loss of property. In many cases, you can provide proof of this loss to the court and the court may order the Defendant to pay restitution if he/she is found guilty. If you believe you are entitled to restitution, please provide proof of loss to your victim advocate or the prosecutor’s investigator that is assigned to your case.  Additionally, you may be eligible to receive benefits from the Indiana Victims of Violent Crime Compensation Fund.  Please visit the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s  website or call 1-800-353-1484 to see if you qualify.