Indiana law has two different felonies under which a person can be charged for failing to pay child support. Essentially, the way that the statute is written, is that it is possible to be charged with a Class D Felony for missing a single payment, although, you would be hard pressed to find a prosecutor willing to do that. If the amount of child support arrearage alleged is over $15,000 then it is possible for the charge to be a Class C Felony.
Once you are charged with a Felony for failing to pay child support, your case will be treated like any other criminal charge. You have the same rights as you would have if you were charged with a crime such as theft. The Court will first determine if probable cause exist and if so a warrant will be issued for your arrest and an initial bond will be set. Once you are brought before the Court (or appear before the Court if you bond out) the court will determine whether or not you will be hiring counsel or if a public defender will be appointed and what your initial plea will be (typically not guilty).
After the initial hearing, the court will set several different hearings such as an omnibus date, a record date, plea bargain deadline date, and a trial date. The first couple of dates are used for the purposes of allowing the prosecutor's office to amend charges. The plea bargain deadline date is the date that the Court wants the State and the Defendant to reach an agreement by (if there isn't going to be a trial). Finally, the trial date is set as well. Again, just like any other criminal case, you have the right to a jury trial.
The most important thing to understand is that most cases that reach this point, are well beyond the civil enforcement stage (contempt hearings, driver's license suspension, etc). Most prosecutors are seeking punishment at this point. If you are faced with a Class D Felony Non-Support case, you could be looking at a possible jail sentence in the range of 6 months to 3 years. If you are faced with a Class C Felony Non-Support case, you could be looking at a possible jail term between 2 to 8 years.
Remember, that just because you are found guilty or plea guilty doesn't necessarily mean that you would serve 8 years automatically. There are many factors that go into a sentencing hearing, such as the nature of the offense, prior convictions, what sort of sentence agreement might have been made in the plea deal, etc. If the court does order a sentence, the court can suspend the sentence and order you to serve a term of probation, execute the sentence, execute part of the sentence, have the defendant serve the sentence through a community corrections program, etc.
Criminal Defense Attorney