Unfortunately, the procedures for resolving criminal cases differ from county to county within the state. This reality can lead to frustration for many who have been made aware of options presented to friends and neighbors to resolve an open criminal case that have not been made available to those within Hamilton county.
There can be many differing reasons as to why pre trial options to conclude a case may be presented by a prosecutor to one individual and not another. The strengths or weaknesses of a certain criminal prosecution may play a role. The experience and/or relationship a defense attorney has with the prosecutor with responsibility over a given case may also play a part. However, for certain types of offenses the types of case resolutions made available by a given prosecutor may be more defined by what the specific county prosecutor will allow in regard to the resolution of specific types of cases prosecutions.
In regard to potential settlements of first time drunk driving cases within Hamilton County, “withheld” prosecutions are not available unlike some counties within the state. Although only offered by a small minority of state prosecutors within Indiana, such a resolution would often allow for a case to be dismissed upon the fulfillment of certain conditions such as counseling, community service and the like. In many instances such a resolution would allow for the cessation of any outstanding license suspension that would have been placed into effect.
Some other counties that do not offer withheld options for drunk driving cases may allow for a resolution to an amended count of Reckless Driving for first time defendants. Although such an outcome can result in a class B misdemeanor conviction (higher than a conviction to operating above .08) unlike an associated drunk driving penalty a reckless driving conviction would not compel a judicially ordered mandatory license suspension. Absent any excess points to one’s Indiana driving record such a reckless driving conviction could contribute to, a first time offender could be able to avoid any undue hardship of a mandatory license suspension with an otherwise clean driving record.
Unlike first time offenses such as Possession of Marijuana, Public Intoxication and even first offense Battery prosecutions that may in fact qualify for some form of withheld prosecution treatment at the present time within Hamilton County, drunk driving cases do not. In my experience I do not anticipate this policy stance to be altered in the foreseeable future.
The present prosecutor within Hamilton County, Lee Buckingham, was a former dui prosecutor within Noblesville under the prior administration of Sonya Leerkamp. As is customary in such circumstances policy stances of one administration tend to carry on to the next. Such is the case in the area of first time drunk driving cases prosecuted within the Noblesville courts of law.
The lesson to be taken from this information is that it essential for you and/or your attorney to be properly versed on all policy stances of a given prosecutor’s office so as to most efficiently assess all avenues for a successful resolution to one’s criminal case. More importantly, not understanding such positions will too frequently undermine any respect an assigned prosecutor may have for the designated legal representative you have entrusted your future to.
Through proper and experienced understanding of the Hamilton county courts of law, a lawyer must know how to properly navigate a client’s case in Noblesville where a pre trial dismissal on the evidence presented is not necessarily assured. A lawyer ill prepared to meet that challenge within Hamilton county will too often choose to withdraw his or her appearance on a client’s behalf, leaving an individual’s future in significant doubt.