Hampshire County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Hampshire County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Hampshire County.
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.
Hampshire County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Hampshire County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Hampshire 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 Hampshire 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.
Where will Hampshire County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Hampshire County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Hampshire 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.
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.
Jury Deliberations in Hampshire County
In Hampshire County, jury deliberations will take place in a jury trial after the prosecution and defense have presented their cases and rested. At this point, the judge will provide a list of instructions to the jury about what they are allowed and not allowed to do and what verdict options are available for them to decide. The jury will be sent to a private room to discuss the evidence presented in the case and attempt to reach a unaminous decision. When a unaminous decision is reached, the jury will inform the judge that they have reached a verdict and will return to the courtroom for the verdict to be read allowed. In the event that the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the jury results in a deadlock and a mistrial is declared.
If guilty, who sentences the defendant?
If the defendant is found guilty after the trial, the defendent will be sentenced. In some cases, this can occur at the same hearing the defendant is found guilty in court, in other cases a separate hearing will be required. Often the prosecution will request a particular sentence for the defendant and the judge will determine whether to enforce this sentence or impose a different sentence for the defendant.
Who can help me in Hampshire County?
For general information about your case the Hampshire 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.
Required Court Appearances in Hampshire County
Any required court appearances in Hampshire 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.
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.
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 Hampshire County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Hampshire County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Hampshire County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Hampshire County. The Hampshire 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.
Hampshire County Criminal Court Locations
Hampshire County Superior Court
Address: 15 Gothic Street, Northampton, MA 01061
Phone: 413-584-5810 Fax: 413-586-8217
Eastern Hampshire District Court
Address: 205 State Street, Route 202, PO Box 1490, Belchertown, MA 01007
Phone: 413-323-4056 Fax: 413-323-6803
Northampton District Court
Address: 15 Gothic Street, Northampton, MA 01060
Phone: 413-584-7400 Fax: 413-586-1980
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 – Hampshire County
Address: 116 Russell Street, Route 9, Hadley, MA 01035
Phone: 413-584-7686 Fax: 413-587-0191
Franklin/Hampshire Juvenile Court – Franklin County
Address: 106 Main Street, PO Box 1573, Greenfield, MA 01302