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Trial Courts Texting Defendants About Upcoming Hearings
Updated August 31, 2018 9:52 AM
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(UNDATED) - Trial courts have sent more than 135,000 text messages over the past few months to remind defendants about their upcoming hearings. The new text service is available to Odyssey courts across the state through Indiana Supreme Court Trial Court Technology.

Locally Bartholomew, Morgan and Orange counties are using the system.

The text messages are a courtesy to defendants to remind them about their upcoming court date. The initiative is aimed at reducing the number of people who fail to appear in court - which can result in an arrest warrant being issued. Evidence shows reminders can be effective in reducing costly failure to appear rates. The reminders are also part of best practices designed to ensure community safety and fairness to defendants.

The system, which became available in May, is currently in use in trial courts in 33 counties as well as 3 city and town courts. The texts are sent automatically in any criminal case if there is a cell phone number for the defendant stored electronically by the court and the court is an Odyssey court that has opted into the text system. Reminders are sent 5 days and 1 day in advance of a hearing. If a hearing is cancelled or rescheduled, another message is sent. Recipients can opt out by texting STOP in reply.

Cell phone numbers are commonly collected by probation departments but are not always available in a criminal court record. Criminal defendants interested in receiving court hearing text reminders should contact their county clerk. If the county is one of the 64 Odyssey counties and it is utilizing the service, a defendant would need to appear in person at the clerk's office with a photo ID to have their cell phone number added to their case. More information is available at courts.in.gov/admin/3633.htm.



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