Otero County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Otero County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Otero County.
Sentencing in Otero County
In Otero 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.
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.
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.
Otero County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Otero County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Otero County. The Otero 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.
Otero County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Otero County will take place at the Otero County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Otero County Criminal Court Locations.
Otero County Required Court Appearances
In Otero 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.
A Plea Agreement, sometimes known as a Plea Bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant, where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest often in exchange for a lesser charge or lighter recommended sentence. A large majority of criminal cases end in a plea agreement. In Otero County you can inform your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution to attempt to come to a plea agreement, but this is dependent upon the charge severity and also the prosecutors willingness to accept a plea deal.
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 Otero County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Who can help me in Otero County?
For general information about your case the Otero 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.
In a jury trial in Otero 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.
Arraignments in Otero County
During an arraignment in Otero 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 Otero 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 Otero County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
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.
Otero County Criminal Court Locations
Otero County District Court
Address: 13 West 3rd Street, Room 207, La Junta, CO 81050
Phone: 719-384-4951 Fax: 719-384-4991
County Court of Otero County
Address: 13 West 3rd Street, Room 105, La Junta, CO 81050
Phone: 719-384-4951 Fax: 719-384-4991
Fowler Municipal Court
Address: 317 South Main Street, Fowler, CO 81039
La Junta Municipal Court
Address: 601 Colorado Avenue, PO Box 489, La Junta, CO 81050
Manzanola Municipal Court
Address: 107 East 3rd Street, PO Box 187, Manzanola, CO 81058
Phone: 719-462-5544 Fax: 719-462-5019
Rocky Ford Municipal Court
Address: 203 South Main Street, Rocky Ford, CO 81067
Swink Municipal Court
Address: 301 Columbia Avenue, PO Box 267, Swink, CO 81077
Phone: 719-384-7155 Fax: 719-384-7951