Lawrence County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Lawrence County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Lawrence County.
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.
Can I appeal a guilty verdict?
If found guilty, a defendant may decide to appeal his case to an appelate court. The appellate court will not retry the case, they will examine the proceedings in the lower court to make sure they were done in a legal manner. The appellate court can either uphold the original conviction, or determine that due to errors made in the original trial, that there must be a retrial, resentencing or a complete dismissal of the charges.
In a jury trial in Lawrence County, after both the prosecution and defense have rested, the judge will give instructions to the jury and jury deliberations will begin. The jury will convence in a private room to discuss and deliberate the innocence or guilt of the defendant. Once the jury arrives at a unimanous decision, they will inform the judge that they have reached a decision. They will return to the court and the verdict will be read aloud. If the jury cannot reach a unaminous decision, the jury is said to be deadlocked and a mistrial will be declared in the case.
Where will Lawrence County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Lawrence County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Lawrence County.
Sentencing in Lawrence County
In Lawrence County if the defendant is found guilty (by trial or plea), the defendant will be sentenced. This sometimes occurrs immediately after being found guilty, but can also take place at a later date. In most instances, a judge will impose the sentence that is requested by the prosecution, but they also have the descretion to impose a different sentence.
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 Lawrence County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Right to Jury Trial
For “Serious Crimes”, those that can have a potential penalty of 6 months in jail OR a minimum $500 penalty, the US Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury. This is guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution and the 6th Amendment. The accused has the ability to waive their right to trial by jury.
Lawrence County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Lawrence County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Lawrence County. The Lawrence County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Lawrence County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.
Lawrence County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Lawrence County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Lawrence County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In Lawrence County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.
Lawrence County Required Court Appearances
In Lawrence 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.
Where can I get help for my Lawrence County criminal case?
The 6th amendment of the United States Constitution provides a criminal defendant with the right to an attorney. As read in the miranda rights, this means that if a defendant cannot afford to hire a private attorney a legal attorney will be appointed to the defendant to represent him at no cost to the defendant. This is often a public defender. In addition, the court clerk for Lawrence County will also be able to provide general information about a specific criminal case. The clerk can only provide information and is not an attorney so they cannot provide legal advice, only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice about what the best options for are for your particular case.
Lawrence County Criminal Court Locations
Lawrence County Circuit Court
Address: 14451 Market St, PO Box 249, Moulton AL 35650
Lawrence County District Court
Address: 14451 Market St, PO Box 249, Moulton AL 35650
Courtland Municipal Court
Address: 361 College St, PO Box 160, Courtland AL 35618
Hillsboro Municipal Court
Address: 11355 Main St, Hillsboro AL 35643
Moulton Municipal Court
Address: 720 Seminary St, Moulton AL 35650
Phone: 256-974-1074 Fax: 256-974-3218
North Courtland Municipal Court
Address: 1181 Davis St, PO Box 93, North Courtland AL 35618
Town Creek Municipal Court
Address: 1600 Main St, PO Box 190, Town Creek AL 35672