The Misdemeanor Division of the Vanderburgh Superior Court handles all of the Court’s Misdemeanor and Infraction cases. Misdemeanors, such as Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated and Battery, are criminal offenses punishable by one year in the County jail or less. Infractions, such as a traffic violation, are punishable by a fine only. The Misdemeanor Division is the Court’s busiest division. In 2003, the Misdemeanor Division handled 9,279 misdemeanor cases and 24,028 infractions.

The Magistrates of the Vanderburgh Superior Court rotate through this division on a monthly basis.  The Misdemeanor Division conducts Court each morning at 8:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. Every Monday afternoon, the Court is in session at 4:30 p.m. to handle traffic matters. The Court regularly meets in room 206 of the Courts’ Building. Extra sessions, such as add-on Court, which are scheduled to relieve court congestion are held in room 222.

All cases in Misdemeanor Court begin with an initial hearing. At the initial hearing the Defendant is advised of the charges against them and their legal and constitutional rights. Defendants in Misdemeanor Court may represent themselves or hire an attorney to represent them. Defendants charged with Misdemeanor cases may request the services of a court-appointed attorney if they are financially unable to hire an attorney on their own. After determining whether the Defendant will be represent themselves or be represented by an attorney, the Court will ask the Defendant how they wish to plead to the charges. Defendants who plead guilty will generally be sentenced at the initial hearing. Defendants who plead not guilty will be given a trial date at a later time.

When a defendant is determined to need an interpreter, the court will reset the case and obtain an interpreter.  Due to the increase in Spanish speaking defendants, the court has an Spanish interpreter available on certain dates.  Spanish speaking defendants should appear in court on their scheduled court date and if needed, the court will reset the case to an appropriate day.

The Court and the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office have created a number of programs to allow Defendants charged with minor offenses to undergo a period of court supervision and treatment and ultimately have their charges dismissed.

Programs:  Drug and Alcohol Deferral Service Program
                 Youth Alcohol Program
                 Tobacco Awareness Program
                 Pre-Trial Diversion Program
                 Infraction Deferral Program
                 Driver Improvement Program

DADS Program

One of the oldest of the Court’s programs is the Drug and Alcohol Deferral Services Program or DADS. Individuals who are charged for the very first time with Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated are eligible for this program. Individuals who are accepted into the program must submit to a substance abuse evaluation and agree to participate in whatever treatment is ordered. These individuals are supervised by the Drug and Alcohol Deferral Services for a period of one year. Upon successful completion of the program and the payment of all associated fees, the charge is dismissed.  See the DADs website for additional information.

Youth Alcohol Program

Young adults who plead guilty to possession, consumption or illegal transportion of alcoholic beverages for the very first time are eligible for this program. These individuals are ordered to submit to a substance abuse evaluation and participate in whatever treatment is recommended. These individuals are supervised by the DADS staff until they have successfully completed the treatment program. Upon successful completion of the program and the payment of all associated fees, the case is dismissed.  See DADS website for additional information.

TAP

Persons under 18 years of age who are charged for the very first time with the illegal possession or use of tobacco are eligible for an educational program which is meant to assist them in making wise choices regarding the use of tobacco. Participants attend 4 one and 1/2 hour sessions. Upon successful completion of the class, the charge is dismissed. 

Pre-Trial Diversion Program

Individuals who are charged with a criminal offense for the very first time may be eligible for the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Pre-Trial Diversion Program. There is a representative of this program available at all Court sessions to screen potential participants. Likely candidates are advised to make an office appointment with the Pre-Trial Diversion staff to discuss the requirements of the program. Eligible and interested people sign a contract with the Prosecutor’s Office agreeing to the terms of the program. Participants must periodically report to the Prosecutor’s Office in person or by telephone, perform a specified amount of community service, pay specified fees and remain free of additional charges for the term of the program. Upon succession completion of all program requirements, the charge is dismissed.  See Prosecutor's website for additional information.

Infraction Deferral Program

Shortly after the issuance of a traffic ticket in Vanderburgh County, the Prosecutor’s Office sends notices by mail directly to people who are eligible for this program. Participants must pay a deferral fee and remain free from additional traffic infractions for one year. Upon successful completion of the program, the traffic ticket is dismissed.  See Prosecutor's website for additional information.

Driver Improvement Program

Individuals who appear in Court on their initial Court date and plead no contest or guilty to a moving traffic violation may ask to complete the Driver Improvement Program (formerly known as the Defensive Driving School or Driver Awareness Course)  if they have not participated in the program for at least three years. This program may be completed via the internet with Indiana Online Driver Improvement or the Safety and Wellness Class at the Holiday Inn Express (1-888-294-3897).  Upon successful completion of the program, the traffic violation is dismissed.

Last updated: 1/4/2008 4:21:40 PM
http://www.vanderburghgov.org/index.aspx?page=407