St. Joseph County Criminal Court

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

Prosecutor in St. Joseph County

In St. Joseph County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing St. Joseph County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Indiana. For the most part, the prosecutor in St. Joseph County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.

Defendant Sentencing

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.

St. Joseph County Criminal Court

St. Joseph County Criminal Court

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.

What happens in St. Joseph County at an arraignment?

In St. Joseph 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.

Required Court Appearances in St. Joseph County

Any required court appearances in St. Joseph 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.

Where can I get help for my St. Joseph 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 St. Joseph 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

St. Joseph County Criminal Court hearings

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

St. Joseph County Criminal Court Locations

  • St. Joseph County Circuit Court

    Address: 101 S Main St, South Bend IN 46601
    Phone: 574-235-9635 Fax: 574-235-9838

  • St. Joseph County Circuit Court

    Address: 219 Lincolnway W, Mishawaka IN 46544
    Phone: 574-256-6242 Fax: 574-256-6225

  • St. Joseph County Superior Court

    Address: 101 S Main St, South Bend IN 46601
    Phone: 574-235-9649 (Civil)

  • St. Joseph County Superior Court

    Address: 219 Lincoln Way W, Mishawaka IN 46544
    Phone: 574-256-6202

  • St. Joseph County Superior Court – Small Claims, Traffic, Misdemeanor

    Address: 112 S Lafayette Blvd, South Bend IN 46601
    Phone: 574-235-9731 (Traffic/Misdemeanor)

  • Walkerton Town Court

    Address: 301 Michigan St, Walkerton IN 46574
    Phone: 574-586-2340

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