Sussex County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Sussex County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Sussex County.
Sussex County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Sussex County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Sussex 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 Sussex 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.
At a sentence hearing the judge will inform the defendant of the sentence that will be imposed. This sometimes occurs at the same hearing in which the defendant is found guilty (either by trial or plea agreement). In can also occur at a later date, most often this is due to the complexity of the case where more time is needed to determine the appropriate 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 Sussex County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Who is the prosecutor for Sussex County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Sussex County criminal cases will either be a representative of Sussex County or a representative from Delaware. After reviewing evidence it is the prosecutor’s decision whether to file charges or drop a case. Most prosecutors have the ability to negotiate plea bargains, and determine how the case will be prosecuted.
Required Court Appearances in Sussex County
Any required court appearances in Sussex County Criminal Court must be attended by the defendant. Failure to appear in court at your required date and time may result in the judge issuing an arrest warrant.
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.
Sussex County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Sussex County will take place at the Sussex County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Sussex County Criminal Court Locations.
Where can I get help for my Sussex 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 Sussex 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.
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.
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.
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.
Sussex County Criminal Court Locations
Sussex County Superior Court
Address: 1 The Circle, Suite 2, Georgetown DE 19947
Phone: 302-856-5275 Fax: 302-856-5739
Sussex County Court of Chancery
Address: 34 The Circle, Georgetown DE 19947
Sussex County Court of Common Pleas
Address: 1 The Circle, Suite 1, Georgetown DE 19947
Sussex County Justice of the Peace Court 1
Address: 9 Main Street, Frankford, DE 19945
Phone: 302-732-9580 Fax: 302-732-9586
Sussex County Justice of the Peace Court 14
Address: 5 East Pine Street, Georgetown DE 19947
Phone: 302-856-4657 Fax: 302-856-4659
Sussex County Justice of the Peace Court 17
Address: 23730 Shortly Road, Georgetown DE 19947
Phone: 302-856-1447 Fax: 302-856-4654
Sussex County Justice of the Peace Court 2
Address: 35252 Hudson Way, Unit 1, Rehoboth Beach DE 19971
Phone: 302-645-6163 Fax: 302-645-8842
Sussex County Justice of the Peace Court 3
Address: 23730 Shortly Road, Georgetown DE 19947
Phone: 302-856-1445 Fax: 302-856-5844
Sussex County Justice of the Peace Court 4
Address: 408 Stein Highway, Seaford DE 19973
Phone: 302-628-2036 Fax: 302-625-2049
Bethany Beach Alderman Court 31
Address: 214 Garfield Parkway, PO Box 109, Bethany Beach DE 19930
Phone: 302-539-8011 Fax: 302-537-3776
Dewey Beach Alderman’s Court 36
Address: 105 Rodney Avenue, Dewey Beach DE 19971
Laurel Alderman’s Court 35
Address: PO Box 210, Laurel DE 19956
Rehoboth Beach Alderman Court 37
Address: 229 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach DE 19971
Phone: 302-227-7917 Fax 302-227-6595