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By Jeff Terrill
Fort Wayne Reader
Dan is not happy. Police arrest Dan over the weekend after his girlfriend accuses him of keying and kicking her car. Dan tells everyone who will listen to him at the jail about how his girlfriend is framing him for a crime he didnít commit. Upon his release from jail, an officer advises Dan that he needs to appear in court the following day for his initial hearing. Dan isnít a real person.
When Dan gets home, he starts working on his case. He wants to be ready to tell the judge all about the wrongful accusations made by his girlfriend. Dan calls his friend, Mike, who was there when Dan and his girlfriend started arguing. Mike says heís willing to help and agrees to attend Danís initial hearing the next morning. Mike asks Dan what happens at an initial hearing. Dan tells Mike that he thinks thatís when he gets to tell the judge what really happened.
The next morning, Dan and Mike make their way to the courthouse for Danís initial hearing. When Dan hears his name called, he walks toward the front of the courtroom. A person seated in the courtroom asks Dan to state his full name. The court informs Dan that heís being charged with the misdemeanor offense of criminal mischief. Dan interrupts the judge and starts to explain that his girlfriend made up the entire story just so he would get arrested.
The judge advises Dan not to discuss the facts of his case and further informs Dan that he needs to listen and not talk. Dan turns to Mike, who is seated behind him in the courtroom, and motions for him to come up front. Mike stands up and the court instructs Mike to return to his seat. Dan interrupts the judge, again, and starts to explain that Mike is an important witness.
The judge now raises her voice and informs Dan that he needs to stay quiet until he is asked to speak. The judge explains to Dan that this is Danís initial hearing Ė not a trial. Dan makes his best decision of the day, stays quiet and listens to the judge.
In Indiana, a court is required to inform a person at an initial hearing about applicable deadlines and the following: (1) the person has a right to hire an attorney; (2) if the person is indigent, the person has right to receive court appointed counsel at no expense: (3) that he has a right to a speedy trial; (4) the amount and conditions of bail; (5) the person has a right against self-incrimination; (6) the nature of the charge(s) against him or her; and (7) a preliminary plea of not guilty is entered for him unless the defendant enters a different plea.
A judge is also required to direct the prosecuting attorney to provide the defendant with a written copy of the charge(s) in all felony cases. In a misdemeanor case, the judge is required to direct the prosecuting attorney to give the defendant a copy of the charge(s) only if the defendant makes that request.
Dan leaves court with a better understanding of the process. He wanted his case to be over, but instead he learns that itís just beginning.
Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you