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What is an Initial Hearing in Indiana?

Posted by attorney Guy Haskell

An Initial Hearing (IH) is usually the first time a person charged with a crime will come before a judge. The hearing must be held within 20 days after the person's arrest (within 10 days for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated).

If you were arrested on a warrant, an IH is not required.

Usually before the IH the judge will examine the probable cause affidavit submitted by the police officer to determine if there was probable cause for your arrest and charge, which is almost always the case. If probable cause is not found by the judge, or if the prosecutor tells the judge no charges will be filed, you will be released immediately. The officer can also testify as to probable cause at the IH in person.

At the IH you will be informed of your constitutional rights, including right to counsel, and the nature of the charges against you and possible penalties, and that a plea of not guilty has been entered on your behalf.

You will need to tell the judge that you have an attorney, are planning to hire an attorney, or request a public defender be appointed on your behalf. If you request a public defender, the judge will ask you questions about your income and assets because you will have to be below certain levels of income and assets in order to qualify for a public defender.

You will then be provided with a date for your next Pretrial Conference and a copy of your charge if it is a felony. If a misdemeanor, you may ask the judge to direct the prosecutor to give you a copy of the charges if not already provided.

Failure to appear at an IH may result in a warrant for your arrest being issued by the Court.

If you hire an attorney prior to the IH, the attorney will usually waive the IH as it is the attorney's responsibility to instruct you on all fo the things required at the IH.

Additional resources provided by the author

Here is the link to the Indiana State Code governing Initial Hearings: http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title35/ar33/ch7.html

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