Lawrence County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Lawrence County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Lawrence 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.
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.
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.
Mandatory Appearances in Lawrence County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Lawrence 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.
What happens in Lawrence County at an arraignment?
In Lawrence 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.
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 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.
Who can help me in Lawrence County?
For general information about your case the Lawrence 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.
Jury Deliberations in Lawrence County
In Lawrence 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.
Who is the prosecutor for Lawrence County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Lawrence County criminal cases will either be a representative of Lawrence County or a representative from Missouri. 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.
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.
Lawrence County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Lawrence County will take place at the Lawrence County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Lawrence County Criminal Court Locations.
Lawrence County Criminal Court Locations
Lawrence County Circuit Court
Address: 240 North Main Street, Suite 110, Mt. Vernon, MO 65712
Phone: 417-466-2471 Fax: 417-466-7899
Aurora Municipal Court
Address: 2 West Pleasant Street, PO Box 30, Aurora, MO 65605
Phone: 417-678-5121 Fax: 417-678-6599
Miller Municipal Court
Address: 105 South Washam Street, PO Box 188, Miller, MO 65707
Phone: 417-452-3371 Fax: 417-452-2523
Mount Vernon Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 70, Mount Vernon, MO 65712
Phone: 417-466-0041 Fax: 417-466-2513
Pierce City Municipal Court
Address: 1 Frisco Place, Pierce City, MO 65723
Phone: 417-476-2323 Fax: 417-476-5580
Verona Municipal Court
Address: 144 North 3rd Street, PO Box 158, Verona, MO 65769
Phone: 417-498-6725 Fax: 417-498-6225