Berkshire County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Berkshire County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Berkshire County.
Mandatory Appearances in Berkshire County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Berkshire 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.
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.
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 Berkshire County?
For general information about your case the Berkshire 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.
Sentencing in Berkshire County
In Berkshire 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.
Berkshire County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Berkshire County will take place at the Berkshire County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Berkshire County Criminal Court Locations.
The Right to Counsel
The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.s. Constitution give defendants in criminal cases the right to counsel/attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to represent you. Like other rights a defendant has, this one can be waived as well and alternatively you can choose to represent yourself.
Berkshire County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Berkshire County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Berkshire 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 Berkshire 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.
In a jury trial in Berkshire 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.
Burden of Proof Requirement
In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.
Who is the prosecutor for Berkshire County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Berkshire County criminal cases will either be a representative of Berkshire County or a representative from Massachusetts. 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.
Berkshire County Criminal Court Locations
Berkshire Superior Court
Address: 76 East Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Phone: 413-499-7487 Fax: 413-442-9190
Northern Berkshire District Court
Address: 111 Holden Street, North Adams, MA 01247
Phone: 413-663-5339 Fax: 413-664-72
Pittsfield District Court
Address: 24 Wendell Avenue, PO Box 875, Pittsfield, MA 01202
Phone: 413-442-5468 (Criminal) Fax: 413-499-7327
Southern Berkshire District Court
Address: 9 Gilmore Avenue, Great Barrington, MA 01230
Phone: 413-528-3520 Fax: 413-528-0757
Western Housing Court
Address: 37 Elm Street, PO Box 559, Springfield, MA 01102
Phone: 413-748-7838 Fax: 413-732-4607
Berkshire Juvenile Court
Address: 190 North Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Berkshire Juvenile Court
Address: 21 Holden Street, North Adams, MA 01247
Phone: 413-664-8700 Fax: 413-443-8674