Hidalgo County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Hidalgo County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Hidalgo County.
Arraignments in Hidalgo County
During an arraignment in Hidalgo County, a defendant appears before the court and the judge reads the charges that have been filed against the accused and also informs the defendant of his/her rights. During the arraignment in Hidalgo County, the defendant can choose to plead one of the following 1) Guilty 2) Not Guilty or 3) No Contest. If the defendant enters a plea of Not Guilty, a date for trial is set. In the event of a Guilty or No Contest Plea in Hidalgo County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
Hidalgo County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Hidalgo County will take place at the Hidalgo County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Hidalgo County Criminal Court Locations.
Sentencing in Hidalgo County
In Hidalgo 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.
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.
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 Hidalgo County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
In a jury trial in Hidalgo 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.
Prosecutor in Hidalgo County
In Hidalgo County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Hidalgo County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent New Mexico. For the most part, the prosecutor in Hidalgo County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
Who can help me in Hidalgo County?
For general information about your case the Hidalgo 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.
Hidalgo County Required Court Appearances
In Hidalgo 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.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Hidalgo County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.
Appealing a Criminal Conviciton
A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.
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.
Hidalgo County Criminal Court Locations
Hidalgo County 6th Judicial District Court
Address: 300 Shakespeare Street, Lordsburg, NM 88945
Phone: 575-542-3411 Fax: 575-542-3414
Hidalgo County Magistrate Court
Address: 420 Wabash Avenue, Lordsburg NM 88045
Phone: 575-542-3582 Fax: 575-542-3596
Lordsburg Municipal Court
Address: 409 West Washbash, Lordsburg, NM 88045
Phone: 575-542-3124 Fax: 575-542-8064