The Wells County Prosecutor’s Office is in charge of prosecuting violations of the penal code for the State of Indiana. Offenses that we prosecute range from murder to misdemeanor traffic matters. We do not prosecute county ordinance or city ordinance violations. With a staff of 4 prosecuting attorneys, we are active in the Wells Circuit Court, Wells Superior Court, and Bluffton City Court. We also serve as special prosecuting attorneys in neighboring counties. In the year 2013, the Wells County Prosecutor’s Office handled 1,057 criminal matters and countless infractions. We also handled 1,131 child support collection cases.
When an offense is committed by a person less than 18 years of age, those offenses are filed as juvenile delinquency petitions and not as criminal actions. Juvenile delinquincy petitions can cover any offense from traditional crimes to school discipline and truancy matters. Referrals for juvenile actions are originally made to either law enforcement or the Probation Department before they are forwarded to our office for prosecution. In juvenile actions, our primary goal is to deter the offender from further delinquent behavior before said child becomes an adult.
“Bad Check” Collections
The Wells County Prosecutor’s office runs a program in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies to collect “bad checks” for merchants and citizens. If someone has written you a “bad check” simply contact the law enforcement agency in your city or town (or the Sheriff if you are in the country) and advise them that you wish to pursue an “bad check”. They will help you complete the necessary paperwork, and the matter will be referred to us. The resources of our office will assist in collecting your “bad check”. Sorry, but we cannot pursue two-party checks and post-dated checks.
Drug Crime Prosecutions
The Wells County Prosecutor’s office takes the war on drugs seriously. Prosecutor Lautzenheiser was the creator of the Citizens Against Drug Abuse in Wells County. Additionally, this Office is an active participant in ongoing drug sting operations aimed at stopping drugs at their source. Drug dealers are dealt with severely and almost always go to prison for their acts. In the past years, countless dealers have been arrested, convicted and taken off the streets and new efforts to curb drug traffic are already underway.
Child Abuse Team
The Child Abuse Team is a creation of the Wells County Prosecutor’s Office that allows professionals from different disciplines to work together to investigate and prosecute child abuse and child molesting cases. A protocol has been established that partners the Prosecutor’s Office with law enforcement, the Office of Family and Children, local medical personnel, local counselors, and the area schools to aid victims and their families in exposing child abuse and molesting. The program provides services to victims to lessen the trauma of the prosecution process. This joint effort has produced tremendous results and much success in prosecuting and preventing child abuse and child molesting.
Child Protection Team
The Wells County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is a founding member of the Child Protection Team. This organization brings together professionals from varying walks of life for the purpose of aiding children and families with problems, criminal and otherwise, that are impossible for them to handle alone.
Domestic Violence Task Force
The Wells County Prosecuting Attorney’s office is an active member of the Domestic Violence Task Force. In this role, this Office has help to bring the problem of domestic violence to the attention of the public. This Office maintains a strict policy regarding domestic violence cases to insure that the intervention is achieved, services are made available for victims, and that perpetrators are required to be accountable for their acts of violence.
The purpose of the Victim Assistance Program is to be able to make contact with the victims of crimes. We also help in getting any restitution as a result of crime. We keep victims informed of the status of their cases if they are involved in the court system. We can refer victims to counseling or legal services they may need. All of the services are free and confidential. Our goal is to let crime victims know we are here to help them with the problems created by being victimized. Our office hours are Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. The direct telephone number is (260) 824-6558.
· You have the right to be informed and notified of court proceedings and to be present during these proceedings.
· You have the right to be informed of the status of the offender after the offender has been incarcerated.
· You have the right to know if the offender has escaped or is being released.
· You have the right to speak with a representative of the prosecutor’s office after a crime has been charged, before the trial, and before any deposition.
These are just some of the rights of a victim. Please contact the office for a more detailed explanation of your rights as a victim.
Restitution is compensation for loss as a result of a crime. A Restitution Claim Form is for use by the Prosecution Attorney’s Office to prepare for the criminal case. An Order of Restitution may be made a part of a defendent’s sentence, probation, or plea agreement.
Child Support Collection
Enforcement of an existing child support order and collection of past due child support owed to the custodial parent or owed to the State of Indiana through Aid for Dependent Children. Our office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 am-4:30 pm. The direct telephone number is (260)824-6409. FAX-(260)824-6550.
Establishes paternity for minor children whose parents are not married to each other at the time of birth. Establishes a new child support order for the custodian of the child. We can arrange and require DNA testing to verify paternity.
This is used when an obligated parent owes past due child support of at least $500.00. Interception of Federal tax refunds (up to the amount of delinquent support owed) can be sent directly to the Child Support Bureau. The refund will first be used to pay any child support owed to the State, then for child support owed to the custodial parent. Please contact our office to sign up for the tax intercept program.
Modification of Support
Administrative review of the amount of child support. Before a support order may be modified in Indiana, it is necessary for a party to demonstrate a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that makes the present order unreasonable or that the amount of support previously ordered differs from the Guideline amount presently computed by more than 20%.
Wage Withholding Orders
A procedure which automatic deductions are made from wages or other income. The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCS) has issued a standard form, “The Order /Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support”, to be used by Title IV-D agencies when issuing an administrative wage withholding order.
The purpose of the Infraction Deferral Program is to allow motorists who have good driving records and who have been ticketed for an infraction, the opportunity to maintain their good driving record by earning a dismissal of the ticket. The offender agrees to pay certain fines and fees and comply with the terms of a deferral contract in exchange for the dismissal. Successful completion of the contract and dismissal of the ticket means that the ticket will not be forwarded to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles or the offender’s insurance agency. Participation in the program is voluntary and ultimately at the discretion of the Wells County Prosecutor; however, once accepted into the program, the offender must successfully complete the program. The money collected as part of the program goes to support the program and other expenses incurred by the Prosecutor’s Office and the various law enforcement agencies operating in Wells County.
The use of a Deferral Contract is at the sole discretion of the Prosecuting Attorney; however, the minimum eligibility requirements are as follows:
- The offender must be at least 18 years of age at the time of the offense.
- The offender must possess a valid driver’s license when the contract is entered.
- The offender cannot have a CDL.
- The offender cannot be on probation or on parole.
- The offender cannot ever have been convicted of Operating While Intoxicated.
- The offender cannot have more than 4 active points on his or her license.
- The offender must be able to show proof of financial responsibility.
- The offender cannot have a judgment for a moving violation within the last year.
- The offender cannot have entered into a deferral contract within the last year.
- The offender cannot have a significant traffic or criminal history.
- A speeding ticket cannot be deferred if the offender was exceeding the limit by more than 30 mph.
- The ticket cannot be for the offense of passing a school bus.
- The ticket cannot be for the offense of failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.
- The ticket cannot be for an offense that resulted in an accident.
- The ticket cannot be for an offense that occurred in a residential neighborhood if the offense created a significant risk to public safety.
Costs and duration of the agreement:
If the ticket is for speeding and the offender was exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 mph or more, the cost of participation in the program is $249.50 and the Contract is in effect for one year.
For all other all other infractions, the cost of the program is $189.50 and the term of the Contract is 6 months.
- Apply for eligibility in the program at the Wells County Prosecutor’s Office prior to your scheduled date. Applications may be made in person at 102 West Market Street, Suite 405, Bluffton, IN 46714 (4th floor of the Courthouse), or by telephone at (260) 824-4102
- If you are eligible, a Contract will be mailed to you at the address you provide. Please review the Contract terms before you sign it. The signed Contract must be submitted to the Court into which you were originally cited along with a money order for the appropriate amount under your circumstances on or prior to your scheduled court date.
- If you are determined to not be eligible, you must attend Court on your scheduled date or make arrangements with the Court’s Clerk to admit and pay the fine and costs associated with your ticket, or set the matter for trial.