Frequently Asked Questions to the Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office

  1. If I need an attorney but can not afford one, what can I do? For a criminal case, please contact the court your case is filed in and speak to the court staff. For civil issues, the Morgan County Legal Aid Clinic meets the first and third Monday of each month. Meetings take place in the County Courthouse, 2nd floor in the Superior Court 3 jury room. For divorce case, please obtain the paperwork from the clerks office on the 1st floor and bring with you.
  2. How can I file charges against someone?
    Criminal charges should begin with an investigation by a police agency. Our office can assist persons in determining the appropriate agency to make a report.
  3. If I initially called the police but now do not want to pursue charges what can I do?
    Once a person contacts a police agency regarding the commission of the crime, and causes another person to be arrested and charged, the decision to pursue the case is decided by the Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office. Our office policy is that once a person is charged, they are prosecuted, regardless of whether the victim has changed his/her mind.
  4. How can I find out the status of a case?
    Your best source of information regarding Court dates is the Court itself. Court schedules are created by the Court staff, and are subject to change; the Court possesses the most current information on its own calendar. Or go to mycase.in.gov
  5. Can I talk to the Prosecutor about my case?
    That depends. Are you a victim or a defendant? If you are the defendant, and you are represented by an attorney,  Prosecuting attorneys are ethically forbidden to speak with defendants about their cases. If you are representing yourself and you have been advised of your right to proceed without an attorney then we may be able to speak with you about your case. If you are a victim, you are entitled to, and should be able to speak to the Prosecuting Attorney handling the case. If you need to speak to someone right away, you may want to first contact the victim assistant coordinator. Please note that Prosecutors have many cases to handle and are often in court and unavailable.
  6. Can I get a Prosecutor’s explanation of a law or get legal advice from a Prosecutor?
    The office of the Prosecuting Attorney will give legal advice on criminal matters to police agencies. Although the Prosecuting Attorney can give general advice on whether certain facts would constitute the commission of a crime, our office is generally reluctant to do so on individual cases to private citizens. Often people seeking a favorable opinion will give a distorted version of the facts; a full investigation by a police agency may reveal grounds for prosecution, which were not disclosed to our office. In addition, no opinion given can be construed as immunity from prosecution. The Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office will not give legal advice on civil matters; all civil legal questions should be referred to a competent private attorney.
  7. What is a warrant?
    A warrant is an order signed by a Judge authorizing the police to arrest a person believed to have committed a crime.
  8. What happens after a person (the defendant) has been arrested?
    The defendant is brought before the court for an initial hearing. The court will advise the defendant of the charges against him/her and their rights. Normally, the Judge automatically enters a plea of “not guilty.” A bond may or may not be set. The court will advise the defendant about the right to have an attorney represent him/her and if the defendant requests an appointed attorney, the court will make a determination about the defendant’s ability to pay for an attorney. Finally, the court will set and provide the defendant with future court hearing dates.
  9. What is a pre-trial conference and do I need to attend?
    A pre-trial conference is held to determine if there are any motions which need to be ruled on; make sure the prosecutor and the defense attorney have exchanged appropriate documents; and basically make sure that everyone is on track for the trial. Many times pre-trial conferences are handled informally, however, some Judges require a formal pre-trial conference at which the defendant is required to appear. The victim does not need to appear.
  10. What is the difference between a bench trial and a jury trial?
    A bench trial is a trial before a Judge without a jury. A jury trial is a trial before a Judge with a jury consisting of either six or twelve jurors (with alternates).
  11. What is a subpoena?
    A subpoena is a court order, which instructs the recipient to appear in court at a designated date and time.
  12. What happens if I ignore the subpoena and/or otherwise fail to appear in court as ordered?
    The court may issue a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear.
  13. Why do I have to testify . . . this is really inconvenient for me . . . do I get paid?
    Witnesses to crimes are required to appear personally in Court to tell what happened. Although it may be inconvenient, the cornerstone of a free society is the willingness of persons to appear in Court so that the truth about a crime can be known. Witnesses are generally not compensated for lost wages or other incidental expenses involved in testifying.
  14. Can I be present in the courtroom during the trial?
    Only if there is no “separation of witness order.” Usually witnesses are not allowed to be in the courtroom until after they have finished testifying. You should ask the prosecutor handling your case if a separation order has been filed.
  15. How will I know if the trial date has changed?
    We will attempt to notify you as soon as we become aware of any changes. However, your subpoena provides you with a contact person and telephone number to call the day before you are scheduled to appear in court. At that time you will be informed if the trial date has changed.
  16. What happens if someone tries to intimidate me to drop the charges and/or not testify?
    Intimidating, threatening and/or harassing a state’s witness is a criminal offense. You should immediately contact the police officer or detective in charge of your case. An arrest warrant may be issued and the defendant’s bail could be revoked. The defendant would then remain incarcerated until the trial is held.
  17. What if the defendant’s attorney or some other individual acting on behalf of the defendant contacts me about the case?
    These individuals have the right to contact you; however, you also have the right not to talk with them. We request that you contact the prosecutor handling your case prior to talking with anyone acting on behalf of the defendant. We prefer that you only do so in our presence. You should also always ask for identification from the individual(s) wanting to talk to you.
  18. What happens if the defendant either pleads guilty or is found guilty by a judge or jury?
    The case will be set for sentencing, usually about thirty days from the date of the guilty plea or trial. In misdemeanor cases the sentencing may be the same day as the guilty plea or trial. If it is a felony, the defendant will sometimes waive the thirty day period. During this time the probation department will prepare a Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSI Report). The probation officer assigned to the case should contact all victims and ask for their input and feelings about the defendant.