Your Legal Rights
Your ticket should charge you with either an infraction or an ordinance violation. Infractions and ordinance violations are not criminal charges, but are civil complaints. You cannot be sent to jail for committing an infraction or ordinance violation, but the Court may impose a fine. The Court may also suspend your driver's license if you are charged with a driving offense.
No Contest or Admission
Please refer to the Fines & Costs pages to determine if you must appear in Court. If not, you may admit the charge(s) against you and make payment. You MUST sign the back of your copy of your ticket and mail it to the the following address at least 5 days before your scheduled Court date. Send payment with your ticket or pay online (see Payment Options).
Hamilton Superior Courts 4,5, & 6
Traffic Violations Bureau
One Hamilton County Square, #10
Noblesville, IN 46060-2229
Admitting the charge(s) against you will result in the entry of judgment against you, which will be certified to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Failure to appear or failure to pay will result in license suspension until the case is cleared, and may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
Please make sure the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has your current address. In certain circumstances, the Bureau will require proof of financial responsibility or insurance in effect on the date of your violation. The Bureau will send notice to the last known address it has for you and the post office will not forward this notice to a new address. Please avoid an unnecessary suspension by making sure the address on your license is your current address.
If you choose to admit or plead no contest to a violation in night court, you should be prepared to pay your fine and court costs by cash, money order, or cashier's check. The Clerk's office will not accept personal checks. If you cannot pay at your court date, please let the Court know so that we can work out arrangements for you to pay later or to pay by mail. You do not need to deny your ticket and request a trial only because you may need more time to pay your fine and costs. However, if you admit or plead no contest to your charge in night court and fail to pay the fine and court costs as arranged, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license. Night Court usually occurs on Wednesday nights at 5:30 p.m. However, everyone is REQUIRED to check in by 5:15 PM.
Pleading Your Case
When you come to night court, you may admit, deny, or plead no contest to the allegation. If you wish to deny the allegation, you have the right to have a trial and have the right to hire your own attorney to represent you. In a civil case such as yours, the Court is not permitted to appoint counsel for you. If you choose to admit or plead no contest to the violation in night court and dispose of your ticket, you will be given the opportunity to talk to the judge and explain why you committed the offense. In other words, even though you are admitting or not contesting the charge, you will be able to tell your side of the story. You may also simply pay the ticket at the Traffic Violations Bureau or pay through the mail without coming to Court, as explained in the other sections of this guide.
Denial of Complaint
If you choose to deny the complaint, your trial will not be held in night court. You will have to come back during the day for a trial with any witnesses you may have and with an attorney if you choose to hire one. At your trial, the prosecutor will present evidence through the police officer. Some people deny the violation in night court in the hope that the police officer will not appear for trial. These people are disappointed when they find out that police officers in Hamilton County take their jobs seriously and do show up for trial.
Burden of Proof
You should also know that since your case is a civil case, and not a criminal case, the State has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you committed the alleged offense. This is a much easier burden of proof than "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is the State's burden of proof in a criminal case. In other words, the State must prove that it was more likely than not that you committed the offense. Also, since this is a civil case, you may be placed under oath and called to give testimony against yourself at your trial.
Speeding Violation Proof
Some people also deny a speeding violation because they do not agree with the exact speed with which they were charged by the officer. Proof of a speeding violation does not require the proof of a specific speed, but only a showing by a preponderance of the evidence that you were in fact exceeding the posted speed limit.
Class C Infractions
Most tickets are Class C Infractions. If you admit or plead no contest to either a Class C Infraction or an ordinance violation, you may be fined up to $500 plus court costs. At night court, the judge may suspend your fine, but cannot suspend the court costs. The court costs for most offenses is $133.50. Speeding in a work zone carries an additional $25 court cost. These court costs were established by the State Legislature, not the courts, and the legislature passed the law that these costs cannot be suspended. Also, adult seat belt violations carry no court costs, and child restraint violations have no court costs if you have proof of acquiring a child seat.
Class A Infractions
You may be charged with Driving While Suspended, a Class A Infraction. For a Class A Infraction, you may be fined up to $10,000 and your license must be suspended for at least 90 days and maybe up to 2 years. If you are able to get your driver's license reinstated within a reasonable time, however, the Court may reduce the Driving While Suspended charge to a lesser offense called No License in Possession (IC 9-24-13-3), a Class C infraction. No License in Possession does not require a mandatory license suspension and will not put any points on your license.
Your Driving Record
We also want to advise you that if the Court enters judgment against you for a traffic violation, a record of this judgment will be sent to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to be part of your permanent driving record. If you accumulate 10 moving offenses in a 10 year period, and one of those offenses is a major offense such as Operating While Intoxicated, Reckless Driving, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or the criminal offense of Driving While Suspended, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver's license for a 5 year period. Points are also assessed against your license for each moving violation and may adversely affect your driving privileges.