Etowah County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Etowah County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Etowah County.
If guilty, who sentences the defendant?
If the defendant is found guilty after the trial, the defendent will be sentenced. In some cases, this can occur at the same hearing the defendant is found guilty in court, in other cases a separate hearing will be required. Often the prosecution will request a particular sentence for the defendant and the judge will determine whether to enforce this sentence or impose a different sentence for the defendant.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof is always on the prosecution in a criminal trial. In other words, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The defense must only prove that there is a reasonable possibility that the defendant did NOT commit the crime. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury will be instructed to find the defendant not-guilty.
Arraignments in Etowah County
During an arraignment in Etowah County, a defendant appears before the court and the judge reads the charges that have been filed against the accused and also informs the defendant of his/her rights. During the arraignment in Etowah County, the defendant can choose to plead one of the following 1) Guilty 2) Not Guilty or 3) No Contest. If the defendant enters a plea of Not Guilty, a date for trial is set. In the event of a Guilty or No Contest Plea in Etowah County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
Etowah County Required Court Appearances
In Etowah County, there are both required and non-required court appearances for the defendant. At a required or mandatory appearance hearing, the defendant is required to appear in person before the court. Failing to appear at your required hearing may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest by the judge.
Prosecutor in Etowah County
In Etowah County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Etowah County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Alabama. For the most part, the prosecutor in Etowah County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
What is a Plea Agreement?
A plea agreement is a deal made between the prosecution and the defendant in a case, where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to a particular charge in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. In practice, more than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea agreement.
Who can help me in Etowah County?
For general information about your case the Etowah County court clerk will be able to provide legal information about your specific criminal case. Legal information is not legal advice though, the court clerk will only be able to provide information about your case, like date/time of hearings what will occur at the hearing and what you may be required to do in the hearing. They cannot provide advice about what you should do or what the best legal options may be for your particular case. Only an attorney can provide legal advice and this is your best place for information about your specific criminal proceeding. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney to represent you, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent you, this is most often a public defender.
Etowah County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Etowah County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
Right to an attorney
The US Constitution’s Sixth Amendment ensures the right to an attorney regardless of whether or not you can afford one. In Etowah County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Appealing a guilty verdict
A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all charges.
The Right to Trial by Jury
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by a jury. This is applicable for when the crime can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail OR a $500 fine, these are known as “Serious Crimes”. The defendant can also waive their right to a speedy and public trial.
What is Jury Deliberation?
After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.
Etowah County Criminal Court Locations
Etowah Circuit Court
Address: 801 Forrest Ave, #202, Gadsden AL 35901
Etowah County District Court
Address: 801 Forrest Ave, #202, Gadsden AL 35901
Altoona Municipal Court
Address: 2844 Main St, PO Box 279, Altoona AL 35952
Attalla Municipal Court
Address: 420 4th St NW, Attalla AL 35954
Phone: 256-538-9986 Fax: 256-538-9988
Gadsden Municipal Court
Address: 90 Broad St, PO Box 267, Gadsden, AL 35902
Phone: 256-549-4595 Fax: 256-549-4749
Glencoe Municipal Court
Address: Phone: 256-492-1424, x112
Hokes Bluff Municipal Court
Address: Phone: 256-492-2414, x4
Rainbow City Municipal Court
Address: 3700 Rainbow Dr, Rainbow City AL 35906
Sardis City Municipal Court
Address: 1335 Sardis Dr, Sardis City AL 35956
Southside Municipal Court
Address: Phone: 256-442-9775, x106 Fax: 256-442-4163