Dona Ana County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Dona Ana County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Dona Ana County.
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 Dona Ana 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.
Dona Ana County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Dona Ana County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Dona Ana 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 Dona Ana 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.
Who is the prosecutor for Dona Ana County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Dona Ana County criminal cases will either be a representative of Dona Ana County or a representative from New Mexico. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dona Ana County Required Court Appearances
In Dona Ana County, there are both required and non-required court appearances for the defendant. At a required or mandatory appearance hearing, the defendant is required to appear in person before the court. Failing to appear at your required hearing may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest by the judge.
The Right to Trial by Jury
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by a jury. This is applicable for when the crime can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail OR a $500 fine, these are known as “Serious Crimes”. The defendant can also waive their right to a speedy and public trial.
Who can help me in Dona Ana County?
For general information about your case the Dona Ana 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 Dona Ana County
In Dona Ana 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.
Dona Ana County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Dona Ana County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
Dona Ana County Criminal Court Locations
Dona Ana County 3rd Judicial District Court
Address: 201 West Picacho Avenue, Las Cruces, NM 88005
Phone: 575-523-8200 Fax: 575-523-8290
Dona Ana County Magistrate Court
Address: 210 West Hall Street, PO Box 896, Hatch, NM 87937
Phone: 575-267-5202 Fax: 575-267-5088
Dona Ana County Magistrate Court
Address: 935 Anthony Drive, PO Box 1259, Anthony, NM 88021
Phone: 575-233-3147 Fax: 575-882-0113
Dona Ana County Magistrate Court
Address: 110 Calle de Alegra, Las Cruces, NM 88005
Phone: 575-524-2814 Fax: 575-525-2951
Hatch Municipal Court
Address: 135 Chili Capitol Lane, Hatch, NM 87937
Phone: 575-267-3021 Fax: 575-267-1135
Las Cruces Municipal Court
Address: 135 East Griggs Avenue, PO Box 20000, Las Cruces, NM 88004
Phone: 575-541-2224 Fax: 575-541-2184
Mesilla Municipal Court
Address: 2670 Calle de Santiago, Mesilla, NM 88046
Phone: 575-524-1091 Fax 575-647-9140
Sunland Park Municipal Court
Address: 1000 McNutt Road, Sunland Park, NM 88063
Phone: 575-589-0709 Fax: 575-874-3866