Ottawa County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Ottawa County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Ottawa County.
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.
A Plea Agreement, sometimes known as a Plea Bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant, where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest often in exchange for a lesser charge or lighter recommended sentence. A large majority of criminal cases end in a plea agreement. In Ottawa County you can inform your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution to attempt to come to a plea agreement, but this is dependent upon the charge severity and also the prosecutors willingness to accept a plea deal.
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.
Who is the prosecutor for Ottawa County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Ottawa County criminal cases will either be a representative of Ottawa County or a representative from Michigan. 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.
Sentencing in Ottawa County
In Ottawa 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.
Mandatory Appearances in Ottawa County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Ottawa 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.
Who can help me in Ottawa County?
For general information about your case the Ottawa 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.
Ottawa County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Ottawa County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Ottawa 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 Ottawa 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.
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.
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 Ottawa County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Where will Ottawa County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Ottawa County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Ottawa County.
Jury Deliberations in Ottawa County
In Ottawa 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.
Ottawa County Criminal Court Locations
20th Circuit Court – Ottawa
Address: 414 Washington Ave, #230, Grand Haven MI 49417
Phone: 616-846-8315 Fax: 616-846-8138
20th Circuit Court – Ottawa – Juvenile
Address: 12120 Fillmore St, West Olive MI 49460
Phone: 616-786-4100 Fax: 616-786-4154
58th District Court – Grand Haven
Address: 414 Washington Ave, Grand Haven MI 49417
58th District Court – Holland
Address: 85 W 8th St, Holland MI 49423
58th District Court – Hudsonville
Address: 3100 Port Sheldon Rd, Hudsonville MI 49426