Criminal Court Process for Madison County Detention Center, Anderson, Madison County in Indiana (2024)

Criminal Court Process for Madison County Indiana

Madison County Indiana Criminal Court System - Definitions

It might be helpful to define some words that will be used on this site, when explaining the Indiana, Madison County Court System and how it works. The definitions on this site are for general information and not legal advice. It is always preferred to follow information given by your attorney or local authorities.

If you scroll down below this content, and the listing of the courts in Madison County, you will find a simple flowchart diagram and a video that will help you visualize the stages of the Criminal Court Process.

Arrest is when Indiana, Madison County, or local police take a person into custody and start the legal process. The arrested person may or may not be immediately jailed.

In less serious crimes, the person may only be given a citation ordering that they appear in municipal or Madison County court on a certain date. In cases involving more serious crimes, the person is usually placed in the county jail until an arraignment, or a judge decides the next step.

Booking is when the Madison County Sheriff or local police gather information such as the detainee’s name, address and why the person is being arrested. Booking also includes fingerprinting, criminal history, investigation and verification of identity.

The prosecution, sometimes called “the government” or “the people” or “the state” is the side that press the charges and seeks punishment for the offense. These are attorneys that work for the state of Indiana, Madison County or a city or town. The prosecuting attorney for the Madison County or the district is called the Prosecuting Attorney or County Prosecutor. A U.S. Attorney prosecutes federal cases.

Jurisdiction is an important term in the court system that means whether a court has the obligation or duty or right to handle a case. For example, if you run a red light in your town or city, a municipal court would likely have jurisdiction over your case, but the next town or city over would not have jurisdiction over your case. If you attempted to flee from police when they attempted to stop you after you ran the red light, it becomes a more serious crime, and the municipal court might not have jurisdiction so you might be assigned to a higher-level court that has jurisdiction over the more serious crime. Jurisdiction varies from state to state and sometimes county to county.

Arraignment is when a judge determines whether or not the charges are supported by the prosecution’s initial evidence and tells the arrested what they are charged with, and the person says whether they are guilty or not guilty. At this time, the person is called the defendant, and the opposing side is called the prosecution. If there is reason to believe that the arrested is guilty, the judge will set bail conditions or send the defendant to jail or release them ROR (release on recognizances). An arraignment is not a trial, and the defendant is entitled to a trial within a reasonable amount of time after the arraignment.

Bail is money paid that is held by the Madison County or municipal court to make sure that the arrested does not flee the area before their trial. Bail amounts and other conditions are determined at the arraignment.

Once the case is over, the bail money is returned to the defendant. If a person does not pay bail, they remain in the Madison County jail until their trial. Bail can be denied if the court feels that the arrested would be a danger to others if released. Sometimes the court decides that there is a good chance that the arrested will show up for trial and not flee so they are released on their own promise, or recognizance without having to pay bail.

A bond proceeding is the determination of how much bail is to be paid and usually happens at the same time as an arraignment. During bond proceedings, the defendant can have an attorney present but does not have the right to an attorney. Jailors, law enforcement and prosecutors generally do not have authority to set bail. A judge or court officer in Madison County or municipal court sets bail. Judges in Indiana rely on a statewide bail schedule, which sets out a recommended range of bail amounts for different offenses. Judges can still exercise discretion in setting bail above or below the recommended range.

It is always important to have family involvement after being arrested. Not only can they make calls and communicate on your behalf (not all bond companies will accept collect calls), but family support will show the court that there are people who will make sure that the defendant makes it to court, not only for the defendant’s own good, but because they may have signed bond paperwork and responsible to pay if the defendant does not show in court. Chances of obtaining a bond from a bond company or clerk of court are better if family is involved.

(There have been phone scams to where a bond company calls and informs a person that their family member has been arrested and they ask for financial information. A bondsman will not call asking for money without involvement of the arrested.)

A judicial public bond or personal recognizance bond is a bond where someone representing the defendant signs paperwork promising to pay the money if the defendant does not show up to court. If the defendant does not show, the full amount will be due and the people who signed the paperwork will be responsible to pay the court. Sometimes the court decides that there is a good chance that the arrested will show up for trial and not flee so they are released on their own promise, or recognizance.

Cash percentage in lieu of bonds. If the bond order permits, the defendant pays a percentage of the amount, (sometimes up to 100%) to the court, which then holds the money until the case is over. The amount is returned if the defendant is acquitted or the case is dismissed, or it can be used toward paying any court fines incurred by the defendant.

Surety Bond is when defendant pays a percentage of the bond amount (usually 10–15%) to a professional bondsman or bail bond company licensed to do business in Indiana. The bondsman then signs the bond on behalf of the defendant. The defendant does not receive any of the money back. If the bondsman feels the defendant is a flight risk, they can refuse to give a bond or charge a higher fee. For example, a bondsman may determine a defendant is a flight risk if they are from a state other than Indiana.

A Property Bond is a bond in which the bond is pledged in land or home real estate (mobile homes are not accepted). Usually, the property must be in , and it must be worth at least the amount of the bond.

An Unsecured Bond is when the defendant is released without paying bail upfront, but they must pay the full amount if they do not appear in court.

A Secured Bond is when the defendant pays a portion of the bail up front. If they show to court,
They would get the money back and if they don’t show up to court, would have to pay the entire bail amount.

Out of State or Transfer Bonds are a type of bond for residents of Indiana who are incarcerated outside of the state, or for individuals who are non-residents of Indiana and incarcerated in Indiana. Defendants or persons obtaining the bond on their behalf should verify the states for which the bond company is willing to provide bonds.

A criminal defense attorney (also called lawyer or counsel) is hired or retained to represent the arrested as early as possible after the arrest.

If there is a chance that the case might go to trial and the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that the court provide an attorney. This is called indigent representation and a public defender or assigned attorney would represent the defendant in all proceedings.

In Indiana, indigent representation is available for all misdemeanor and felony cases that could result in jail time, juvenile cases, and certain appeal cases. The Indiana Public Defender Commission helps defray some of the costs for the county courts but most of the financial support comes from the local counties. Representation by a public defender or court-appointed counsel is provided at no cost to the defendant. In cases where a defendant cannot afford to retain private counsel but they are deemed ineligible for public defender services, they may make a formal request to have counsel appointed at no or reduced charges.

For less serious cases or civil cases, there are pro bono volunteers who volunteer legal services for free or for a small fee. They often will hold clinics to teach people how to represent themselves in court or expunge their record which means to legally erase or eliminate a criminal or arrest record from public view. This website provides contact information for pro bono services in Indiana.

Many courts will provide forms and help for people who want to represent themselves, called pro se. Here is a link for legal self-help in Indiana.

A district court can refer to the first level of the legal system, or a minor court. District courts are located in the community. A district court can also refer to a U.S. Federal District Court that hears federal cases. There are two U.S. federal district courts in Indiana, with offices throughout the state. It is important that you check the address of the court you are to appear in rather than to ask someone because that person might give you directions to the wrong “district” court. Being late to court can land you in custody as well.

Pretrial proceeding is the process where both sides (prosecution and defense) gather information, interview witnesses, request records, videos etc. Pretrial proceedings also include communications with the judge assigned to the case and these appearances are either in person or by on-line conferencing. Some pretrial proceedings may not require a defendant’s appearance, allowing an attorney to appear in their place. The information that is gathered is called discovery and both sides must share the information that they have gathered. This information does not include conversations between the arrested and their attorney.

Most cases do not go to trial because both sides reach a plea deal, where both sides try to reach a reasonable punishment based on what was learned in the pretrial proceedings. A plea deal can only happen if the accused person admits they are guilty in exchange for a lighter punishment. The reason they must admit guilt is because it would not be fair to punish someone who claims they are not guilty. There are times in plea bargaining when the prosecution agrees to give a lighter sentence in exchange for information leading to the arrest of more serious criminal related to the crime.

Trial is where both sides share their information in front of a judge or a judge and jury. After listening to all the evidence, the judge or jury decides the verdict which is whether if the person is guilty or not guilty. If a court has only a judge hearing both sides, it is called a bench trial. If a jury is selected, it is called a jury trial. If the defendant is found non-guilty, they are released. If they are found to be guilty, the next step is sentencing.

Sentencing is the punishment that the judge decides the person should get. This could be jail or prison time, fines, community service, probation, or a combination.

Appeal is asking for a higher court to hear the case again at an appellate court. If the accused person thinks something went wrong at trial or has new information that was not available during the trial or that the sentence is too harsh, the defense attorney can ask for an appeal. It is not unusual for an appeal when there is a long jail sentence, but an appeal can be denied if the appellate court feels that the original trial or sentencing was fair.

Indiana Felony vs Misdemeanor

In Indiana, a misdemeanor is divided into Class A or B or C. Class A misdemeanors have punishments of jail for up to 1 year and/or pay a fine up to $5,000 or both. Class B misdemeanors have punishments of jail for up to 180 days and/or pay a fine up to $1000 or both. Class C misdemeanors have punishments up to 60 days and fines up to $500 or both. Examples of misdemeanors include theft of property valued at less than $750, possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A felony crime is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor and are divided into different classes which are general guidelines and are based on the crime, prior criminal history and other factors. Examples of felony crimes are murder, rape, theft, aggravated assault, drug trafficking, kidnapping and identity theft.

In Indiana, felonies are categorized into:

  • Murder which can carry a sentence of over 45 years to life in prison or the death sentence.
  • Level 1 felonies include crimes as rape, child molestation and certain drug dealing offenses. Punishment for a Level 1 felony can carry a sentence of 20-40 years in prison.
  • Level 2 felonies include crimes as aggravated battery and certain drug offenses and can lead to a sentence of 10 to 30 years in prison.
  • Level 3 felonies include crimes as robbery and burglary and can be punished by 3 to 16 years in prison.
  • Level 4 felonies include involuntary manslaughter and certain drug offenses and have a punishment of 2 to 12 years in prison.
  • Level 5 felonies include some burglary and theft crimes and have a punishment of 1 to 6 years in prison.
  • Level 6 felonies include possession of controlled substances and others and have a punishment of 6 months to 2 ½ years in prison.

The Madison County Clerk of Court is an elected official whose responsibilities for Criminal Court’s administrative issues include receiving criminal warrants, receiving bail, creating the trial schedule, receiving fees, fines and maintaining court records.

A warrant is used to get someone to appear in court or to law enforcement. There must be good reason to believe that the person is involved in a crime. The warrant gives authority to arrest the person and search for evidence for the investigation of the crime.

A criminal summons is issued to request that a person appear in court at a particular time and date. It does not involve an arrest. A traffic ticket, summary citation or lesser misdemeanor could be considered a summons if you are given a court date.

A summary citation, commonly referred to as a ticket, is a criminal summons by a law enforcement officer either in person or via mail accusing the defendant of a minor offense, stating potential fine, listing the court having jurisdiction and instructions for addressing the issue. Defendants may or may not be required to appear in court or handle the matter by entering a plea via mail.

Fines are usually paid to the District Court or clerk of court and payment methods can be found on the District Court or County Clerk of Court website. If you do not pay your fine on time, you can lose your driver’s license, have to pay additional fees or even have a warrant for your arrest. It is important to read the instructions on the ticket issued by the police officer or court at the time of your arrest. For a parking ticket or summary citation, the fine amount and how to send payment should be on the ticket.

Indiana Criminal Court System - How it Works

Municipal courts handle violations of municipal ordinances (city laws), traffic violations, parking violations and criminal misdemeanor offenses that occur within the city or towns police jurisdiction.

Superior courts handle many types of criminal cases including misdemeanor and felony cases. The cases that these courts hear can vary tremendously from county to county in Indiana. Less serious misdemeanor crimes and violations are heard in some divisions of superior courts in larger counties. Not all counties have superior courts.

Circuit courts handle many types of criminal cases including misdemeanor and felony cases. Juvenile cases, for individuals under 18 and under 16 for certain felony offenses, are usually handled in Juvenile division of the Circuit court though this may vary from county to county in Indiana.

The Court of Appeals of Indiana hears appeals from trial courts but does not hold any trials of its own. It is made of a panel of fifteen judges, but for any given case, a panel of three of those judges presides.

Specialty courts or problem-solving courts are being adopted in many states as a way to handle cases that involve non-violent and first-time offender cases in a way to where the offender can retain a job or responsibilities while following specific orders of the court as returned court appearances, periodic evaluations or testing for substances. You can find out more about Indiana’s Problem-Solving Courts at the following link.

The Indiana Supreme Court is similar to our United States’ Supreme Court because it has a panel of judges that rule on matters that have to do with someone’s constitutional rights or policies and laws; however, the Indiana State Supreme Court deals with the state constitution or laws or policies.

Sometimes the Indiana Supreme Court will hear criminal cases on appeal when there is question on the state laws or procedures that led to the appeal. The criminal cases are usually referred from the Indiana Court of Appeals, although in cases where the death penalty or life-without-parole is rendered, those appeals go straight from the trial court to the Indiana Supreme Court.


Federal Court deals with crimes involving violations of United States laws. Federal crimes include federal drug trafficking, federal tax evasion and fraud that crossed state lines and include crimes that occur on federal property as post offices or federal buildings.

Cases involving crimes that involve the FBI or DEA or Immigration agencies are federal crimes. Terrorism is a federal crime.

There are some differences in the Federal court system as compared to the Indiana state court system. For example, the attorneys who work for the courts are called United States Attorneys and Federal judges are called District Court Judges (not to be confused by local state district courts).

Federal Magistrate Judges hear the case early on, but they do not decide on the cases at a trial like the Federal District Court Judges. In a federal case, a grand jury is used for indictments.

There are two U.S. Federal Judicial Districts in Indiana.

Criminal Court Process for Madison County Detention Center, Anderson, Madison County in Indiana (2024)


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