Franklin County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Franklin County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Franklin County.
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.
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.
Where will Franklin County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Franklin County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Franklin County.
Required Court Appearances in Franklin County
Any required court appearances in Franklin 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.
Franklin County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Franklin County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Franklin County. The Franklin 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.
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.
In a jury trial in Franklin 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.
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 happens in Franklin County at an arraignment?
In Franklin 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.
Where can I get help for my Franklin 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 Franklin 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.
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.
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 Franklin County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Franklin County Criminal Court Locations
Franklin County Superior Court
Address: 101 Munson Street, Greenfield, MA 01302
Phone: 413-774-5535 Fax: 413-774-4770
Greenfield District Court
Address: 101 Munson Street, Greenfield, MA 01301
Phone: 413-774-5533 Fax: 413-774-5328
Orange District Court
Address: 1 Court Square, Orange, MA 01364
Phone: 978-544-8277 Fax: 978-544-5204
Western Housing Court
Address: 37 Elm Street, PO Box 559, Springfield, MA 01102
Phone: 413-748-7838 Fax: 413-732-4607
Franklin/Hampshire Juvenile Court – Franklin County
Address: 106 Main Street, PO Box 1573, Greenfield, MA 01302
Franklin/Hampshire Juvenile Court – Hampshire County
Address: 116 Russell Street, Route 9, Hadley, MA 01035