– This class focuses on trials, but most cases are resolved without litigation.
– Possible ways to resolve a case without litigation:
(1) Plea Agreement – Agreement between state and defense. The terms are often set, but terms can be left open to argument. For example, a plea can call for a 365 day sentence, with up to 90 days in jail, with the remainder on probation. Another example, a plea could call for 180 days to be executed with placement open (allowing the parties to argue to the judge whether the time should be done in jail/DOC, work release, or home detention.)
(2) Conditional Discharge – A plea agreement where the State agrees the case will be dismissed at the end of the sentence. The court holds a regular guilty plea hearing, but at the end of the hearing, instead of entering a judgment of conviction, the Court holds the matter under advisement. If the defendant successfully completes the sentence, the case is dismissed. If not, the conviction is entered.
(3) Diversion – An agreement that calls for dismissal of the case without a plea agreement if the defendant successfully completes certain terms (generally a $300 fine, class, and CSW). If the defendant does not successfully complete the terms of the agreement, the State can resume prosecution from where the case left off. However, most diversion agreements require the defendant to agree with the facts stated in the charging information.
(4) PL 340 – Only applies to marijuana cases. This is similar to a conditional discharge, but does not require the consent of the State. The judge decides whether or not to let the person proceed under PL 340.
(5) Dismissal – A prosecutor will sometimes dismiss a case because they have doubts about the guilt of the defendant, or because of a legal inability to go forward (such as the alleged victim of a domestic battery case not showing up for trial or a motion to suppress evidence being granted). There are also informal policies which allow for dismissal in certain situations. For example, in Marion County, if someone is charged with Driving with a Suspended License, and the person later obtains a valid license, the prosecutor will generally dismiss the case.
(6) Some counties have more complex programs that are variations of any of the above for persons with mental health issues or drug issues. Marion County has a PAIR program for persons with mental health issues, and DTC for persons with drug addiction. Marion County has also been exploring a Veterans court for persons with PTSD or other issues relating to military service. Not all people are eligible for these programs and they generally have specific criteria for who can get in.
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