Houston County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Houston County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Houston County.
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.
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.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.
Where will Houston County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Houston County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Houston County.
Appealing a Criminal Conviciton
A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.
Houston County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Houston County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Houston County. The Houston 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.
Houston County Required Court Appearances
In Houston 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.
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.
In a jury trial in Houston 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.
Sentencing in Houston County
In Houston 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.
Where can I get help for my Houston 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 Houston 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.
Arraignments in Houston County
During an arraignment in Houston 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 Houston 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 Houston County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
Houston County Criminal Court Locations
Houston County Superior Court
Address: 201 Perry Parkway, Perry GA 31069
Phone: 478-218-4740 (Civil) Fax: 478-218-4735
State Court of Houston County
Address: 202 Carl Vinson Parkway, Warner Robins GA 31088
Phone: 478-542-2105 Fax: 478-542-2077
Houston County Magistrate Court
Address: 89 Cohen Walker Drive, Warner Robins GA 31088
Phone: 478-987-4695 Fax: 478-987-5249
Houston County Juvenile Court
Address: 206 Carl Vinson Parkway, Warner Robins GA 31088
Phone: 478-542-2090 Fax: 478-328-1952
Municipal Court of Centerville
Address: 300 East Church Street, Centerville GA 31028
Phone: 478-953-4795 Fax: 478-953-6642
Municipal Court of Perry
Address: 1207 Washington Street, PO Box 2030, Perry GA 31069
Municipal Court of Warner Robins
Address: 233 North Houston Road, Suite 115, Warner Robins GA 31093