Harris County Criminal Court

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

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.

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.

Harris County Criminal Court

Harris County Criminal Court

Sentencing in Harris County

In Harris 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.

Who is the prosecutor for Harris County?

Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Harris County criminal cases will either be a representative of Harris County or a representative from Georgia. 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.

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.

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

Mandatory Appearances in Harris County Criminal Court

At a mandatory or required court appearance in Harris County, the defendant must appear before the court. In the event of a “Failure to Appear” the judge may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Note: not all criminal hearings are mandatory, in a non-mandatory hearing an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being in court.

Harris County Criminal Court hearings

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

What happens in Harris County at an arraignment?

In Harris County the defendant is brought into court and informed by the judge of the charges that have been filed against them along with informing them of their rights. At this time, the defendant can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, there will be no trial and the defendant may be sentenced immediately or at a later date. If the defendant pleads not guilty a trial date is set.

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.

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.

Who can help me in Harris County?

For general information about your case the Harris 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.

Harris County Criminal Court Locations

  • Harris County Superior Court

    Address: 102 North College Street, PO Box 528, Hamilton GA 31811
    Phone: 706-628-4944 Fax: 706-628-7039

  • Harris County Magistrate Court

    Address: 102 North College Street, PO Box 347, Hamilton GA 31811
    Phone: 706-628-4977 Fax: 706-628-5416

  • Harris County Juvenile Court

    Address: 102 North College Street, PO Box 528, Hamilton GA 31811
    Phone: 706-628-4944 Fax: 706-628-7039

  • Municipal Court of Hamilton

    Address: 210 Walton Street, PO Box 112, Hamilton, GA 31811
    Phone: 706-628-5321

  • Municipal Court of Pine Mountain

    Address: PO Box 8, Pine Mountain GA 31822
    Phone: 706-663-2213

  • Municipal Court of Shiloh

    Address: 1175 Main Street, PO Box 25, Shiloh GA 31826
    Phone: 706-846-3814

  • Municipal Court of Waverly Hall

    Address: PO Box 357, Waverly Hall GA 31831
    Phone: 706-582-6962

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