La Plata County Criminal Court

La Plata County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in La Plata County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in La Plata County.

Arraignments in La Plata County

During an arraignment in La Plata 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 La Plata 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 La Plata County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.

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.

La Plata County Criminal Court

La Plata County Criminal Court

What is the Burden of Proof?

The term “Burden of Proof” means that the prosecutor is required to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot provide proof of the defendants guilt, then the judge or jury in a trial must find the defendant not guilty. In the United States the principle innocent until proven guilty derives from this that the defendant is assumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

La Plata County Prosecutor

For criminal cases in La Plata County, the prosecutor will be a representative of La Plata County. The La Plata 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 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.

La Plata County Required Court Appearances

In La Plata 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.

Can I request a Plea Agreement?

In La Plata 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.

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.

Jury by Trial Right

The US Constitution (Article 3 along with the 6th Amendment) ensures an accused defendant the right to a jury trial. This applies to crimes that have a $500 fine or a potential sentence of six months in jail (aka Serious Crimes). This right to trial by jury can also be waived by a defendant.

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 La Plata County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.

Who can help me in La Plata County?

For general information about your case the La Plata 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.

La Plata County Criminal Court hearings

Criminal hearings in La Plata County will take place at the La Plata County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the La Plata County Criminal Court Locations.

La Plata County Criminal Court Locations

  • La Plata County District Court

    Address: 1060 East 2nd Avenue, Durango, CO 81301
    Phone: 970-247-2304

  • County Court of La Plata County

    Address: 1060 East 2nd Avenue, Durango, CO 81301
    Phone: 970-247-2304

  • Bayfield Municipal Court

    Address: 1199 Bayfield Parkway, PO Box 80, Bayfield, CO 81122
    Phone: 970-884-9544 Fax: 970-884-2195

  • Durango Municipal Court

    Address: 949 East 2nd Avenue, Durango, CO 81301
    Phone: 970-375-5020 Fax: 970-375-5098

  • Ignacio Municipal Court

    Address: 560 Goddard Avenue, Ignacio, CO 81137
    Phone: 970-563-9494 Fax: 970-563-9498

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