Elkhart County Criminal Court

Elkhart County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Elkhart County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Elkhart County.

Mandatory Appearances in Elkhart County Criminal Court

At a mandatory or required court appearance in Elkhart County, the defendant must appear before the court. In the event of a “Failure to Appear” the judge may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Note: not all criminal hearings are mandatory, in a non-mandatory hearing an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being in court.

Sentencing in Elkhart County

In Elkhart County if the defendant is found guilty (by trial or plea), the defendant will be sentenced. This sometimes occurrs immediately after being found guilty, but can also take place at a later date. In most instances, a judge will impose the sentence that is requested by the prosecution, but they also have the descretion to impose a different sentence.

Elkhart County Criminal Court

Elkhart County Criminal Court

Right to an attorney

The US Constitution’s Sixth Amendment ensures the right to an attorney regardless of whether or not you can afford one. In Elkhart County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.

Elkhart County Criminal Court locations

Criminal proceedings take place in the Elkhart County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.

What happens in Elkhart County at an arraignment?

In Elkhart County the defendant is brought into court and informed by the judge of the charges that have been filed against them along with informing them of their rights. At this time, the defendant can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, there will be no trial and the defendant may be sentenced immediately or at a later date. If the defendant pleads not guilty a trial date is set.

Right to Jury Trial

For “Serious Crimes”, those that can have a potential penalty of 6 months in jail OR a minimum $500 penalty, the US Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury. This is guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution and the 6th Amendment. The accused has the ability to waive their right to trial by jury.

Can I request a Plea Agreement?

In Elkhart County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.

Appealing a Criminal Conviciton

A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.

Burden of Proof Requirement

In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Elkhart County Prosecutor

For criminal cases in Elkhart County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Elkhart County. The Elkhart County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.

Where can I get help for my Elkhart County criminal case?

The 6th amendment of the United States Constitution provides a criminal defendant with the right to an attorney. As read in the miranda rights, this means that if a defendant cannot afford to hire a private attorney a legal attorney will be appointed to the defendant to represent him at no cost to the defendant. This is often a public defender. In addition, the court clerk for Elkhart County will also be able to provide general information about a specific criminal case. The clerk can only provide information and is not an attorney so they cannot provide legal advice, only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice about what the best options for are for your particular case.

Jury Deliberation

In a jury trial in Elkhart County, after both the prosecution and defense have rested, the judge will give instructions to the jury and jury deliberations will begin. The jury will convence in a private room to discuss and deliberate the innocence or guilt of the defendant. Once the jury arrives at a unimanous decision, they will inform the judge that they have reached a decision. They will return to the court and the verdict will be read aloud. If the jury cannot reach a unaminous decision, the jury is said to be deadlocked and a mistrial will be declared in the case.

Elkhart County Criminal Court Locations

  • Elkhart County Circuit Court

    Address: 101 N Main St, #204, Goshen IN 46526
    Phone: 574-535-6430 Fax: 574-535-6411

  • Elkhart County Superior Court 1 and 2

    Address: 315 S 2nd St, Elkhart IN 46516
    Phone: 574-523-2233

  • Elkhart County Superior Court 3

    Address: 101 N Main St, Goshen IN 46526
    Phone: 574-535-6437

  • Elkhart County Superior Court 4

    Address: 101 N Main St, Goshen IN 46526
    Phone: 574-535-6494

  • Elkhart County Superior Court 5

    Address: 315 S 2nd St, Elkhart IN 46516
    Phone: 574-523-2273

  • Elkhart County Superior Court 6

    Address: 315 S 2nd St, Elkhart IN 46516
    Phone: 574-523-2007

  • Elkhart City Court

    Address: 229 S 2nd St, Elkhart IN 46516
    Phone: 574-522-5272 Fax: 574-296-9811

  • Goshen City Court

    Address: 111 E Jefferson St, #2, Goshen IN 46528
    Phone: 574-533-9365 Fax: 574-533-3235

  • Nappanee City Court

    Address: 300 W Lincoln St, PO Box 29, Nappanee IN 46550
    Phone: 574-773-2112 Fax: 574-773-5878

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