An initial hearing is conducted. The defendant is given a copy of the charging information and the judge enters the defendant’s plea (usually “not guilty”). A bond is then set; in other words, the judge determines whether the defendant can afford an attorney. If the defendant is unable to do so, the court will then appoint one. Finally, the court will set pretrial conference and trial dates.
A pretrial conference serves three purposes: to determine any motions require rulings; to ensure that the prosecutor and defense attorney have exchanged appropriate documents; and to make sure that both sides of the case are effectually prepared for trial.
The victim does not need to attend a pretrial conference. As for the defendant, pretrial conferences are often conducted by conference call. However, some judges may prefer (or require) a formal pretrial conference at which the defendant must appear.
The best source of information for staying up-to-date on your court proceedings is your attorney. Court schedules are created by the court itself and are subject to change. The court possesses the most current information on its calendar.
A subpoena is a court order mandating that the recipient must appear in court at the designated date and time.
The court may issue a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear.
Such intimidation and harassment of a state’s witness is a criminal offense. If such a situation occurs, immediately contact the police officer or detective in charge of your case. An arrest warrant may be issued and the defendant’s bond may be revoked. The defendant would then remain incarcerated for the remainder of the trial.
It is within their right to contact you; however, you are not compelled to talk to them. Prior to talking to the defense, we advise that you consult the prosecutor handling your case. We also advise that you talk to the defense only in the presence of the prosecutor. In addition, you should ask for identification from the individual(s) wanting to speak with you.
A bench trial is a trial conducted by the judge without a sitting jury. Conversely, a jury trial is a trial before a judge with a jury consisting of either six or twelve jurors (with alternates).
The case will be set for sentencing, usually about 30 days from the date of the guilty plea (although the defendant may waive the 30-day period). During this time, the probation department will prepare a Presentence Investigation Report and the probation officer should contact all victims and ask for their input/feelings about the defendant.
The court may order an individual convicted of a crime to pay restitution for certain expenses related to the crime. The payments may be made to the victim, the victim’s estate, and/or the family of a victim who is deceased.
When ordering restitution, the court may consider property damages, medical expenses, lost earnings, and funeral, burial, or cremation costs.
Submit all documentation of uninsured expenses related to the crime to the Prosecutor’s Office as soon as possible—the prosecutor must have the documentation prior to the sentencing of the defendant.
Most criminal charges begin with either a police report or a citizen complaint. Our office conducts investigations into check deceptions through our Bad Check Program. Other investigations, however, will be referred to a police agency. If you have questions pertaining to determining the appropriate agency to make a report, our victim/witness coordinator, Tracey Christener, can assist you.
Once charges have been filed, the case becomes the property of the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office. Our policy holds that once an individual is charged, they are prosecuted, regardless of whether the victim has changed his/her mind.
A Victim Impact Statement is a written or oral statement to the court about how you were affected by the crime—be that physically, emotionally, financially, etc. A Victim Impact Statement may also include your opinions on how the defendant ought to be punished. The Victim Impact Statement must be made after the defendant is convicted but before the sentencing.
The Boone County Prosecutor’s Office will obtain a Restraining Order for the victims of violent crime as part of filing charges. Witnesses may also be covered by protective orders when appropriate.
If criminal charges are not filed, or where a violent crime did not occur, a private citizen may obtain a Restraining Order through the Boone County Clerk. The Clerk’s Office will provide an information packet that assists a person in obtaining the order. As part of filing for a Restraining Order through the Clerk, a court cost is incurred. The Clerk’s Office is located at the Boone County Courthouse in Lebanon.
You should immediately contact your local police agency. Inform them that you have a Restraining/No-Contact Order and that the defendant is violating it. An officer should then investigate the matter and the defendant may be arrested or issued a citation and summonsed to court.
You have two options: (1), you may sue the individual who sent the check in civil court for treble damages; or, (2), you may present the check to a prosecuting attorney. You may not do both. If you decide to sue in civil court, questions should be forwarded to a private attorney. If you intend to prosecute a bad check in criminal court, you must first send a “demand letter” to the address printed on the check. The demand letter must be sent via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.
A demand letter template is available here:
Once you presented the check to the prosecuting attorney, you may ask the prosecutor to file charges. You must complete a Probable Cause Affidavit and a Charging Information document for each check you present. For samples of these documents, please contact our office.
First, our office will send a letter via U.S. Mail stating that we have received a bad check and it must be paid, else charges will be filed. If the letter is not returned, we assume that the individual lives at the address and simply did not respond. As a result, we will then file charges and send notice with a Sheriff’s Deputy ordering the individual to appear in court.
If the letter is returned as undeliverable, we assume the individual has moved. We then request a warrant for their arrest.
If filed, most check deception cases are resolved in three to six months. However, restitution for particularly large sums may take approximately six to twelve months. Further, while we will make every effort to restore to you your lost funds, we cannot guarantee that you will be entitled to restitution. It may be the case that the only option is for the defendant to be incarcerated.
Criminal offenses are divided into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. The range of penalties for each is given as follows:
· Murder: 45-65 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
· Class A Felony: 20-50 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
· Class B Felony: 6-20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
· Class C Felony: 2-8 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
· Class D Felony: 6 months – 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
· Class A Misdemeanor: Maximum 1 year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
· Class B Misdemeanor: Maximum 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
· Class C Misdemeanor: Maximum 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Plea deals are an important and necessary facet of the United States’ criminal justice system. Without such plea bargains, the defendant would have to be brought to trial in every criminal case, thus bringing the criminal justice system to a grinding halt. Plea deals provide swift and certain justice for the defendant and the victim.