Defendants in criminal matters are frequently confused by the “omnibus date” that the Court sets. Pursuant to statute, the omnibus date “shall” be set by the Court during the initial hearing, and the omnibus date is to be between 45 and 75 days after the initial hearing. See I.C. 35-36-8-1.
So what is the omnibus date? According to attorney Brandon E. Murphy of the firm of Cannon Bruns & Murphy, LLC. the omnibus date is a “technical motions and notice deadline.” It is important, he says, in several respects. First, if the Defendant wishes to file a Motion to Dismiss the charges, a Motion to Dismiss generally must be filed twenty (20) days before the omnibus date in a felony case, or fifteen (15) days before the omnibus date in a misdemeanor case. See I.C. 35-34-1-4. Secondly, some defenses require the Defendant give notice of their intended defense at or before the omnibus date. Two notable defenses that require this pre-trial notice are the defenses of alibi and insanity. See I.C. 35-36-4-1, 35-36-2-1. Finally, some courts may tie various other deadlines to the omnibus date, such as for the filing of evidentiary motions, including Motions to Suppress Evidence.
Given the circumstances of the case at hand, it may be critical for a defendant to be able to preserve certain issues by making a timely motion or giving timely notice of a defense. The best way to ensure that these deadlines are met is by retaining counsel before or shortly after the initial hearing so that your counsel can evaluate your case and determine what must be done and when.
Be sure to listen carefully to the Judge at your initial hearing if you are unrepresented. The Judge will inform you of the dates you are required to attend. It is likely that the Judge will not require you to appear on your omnibus date unless the Judge also sets a pre-trial conference or some other hearing for the same date. In Muncie and Delaware County Courts, it is Mr. Murphy’s experience that Defendants typically are not ordered to appear on their omnibus date.