Lea County Criminal Court

Lea County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Lea County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Lea 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.

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.

Lea County Criminal Court

Lea County Criminal Court

Lea County Criminal Court locations

Criminal proceedings take place in the Lea County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.

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 Lea County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.

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.

Lea County Required Court Appearances

In Lea 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.

Jury Deliberation

In a jury trial in Lea 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.

I need help for my Lea County criminal case

The best place to get information about your criminal case is from an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent you which will assist in your case. For general information about your case the Lea County court clerk is able to provide general information about your specific case (e.g. date/time hearings, mandatory appearance, what will take place and what you will be required to do). The court clerk for Lea County will NOT be able to provide legal advice for your case, only an attorney can provide legal advice. The court clerk can provide legal information (like the information found on this website) about your case but cannot provide advice about what you should do in your legal manner.

Lea County Prosecutor

For criminal cases in Lea County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Lea County. The Lea 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.

Defendant Sentencing

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 happens in Lea County at an arraignment?

In Lea 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 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.

Lea County Criminal Court Locations

  • Lea County 5th Judicial District Court

    Address: 100 North Main Avenue, PO Box 6-C, Lovington, NM 88260
    Phone: 575-396-8571 Fax: 575-396-2428

  • Lea County Magistrate Court

    Address: 2200 West Avenue O, PO Box 240, Eunice, NM 88231
    Phone: 575-394-3368 Fax: 575-394-3335

  • Lea County Magistrate Court

    Address: 2110 North Alto Drive, Hobbs, NM 88240
    Phone: 575-397-3621

  • Lea County Magistrate Court

    Address: 400 South Highway 18, PO Box 507, Jal, NM 88252
    Phone: 575-395-2740 Fax: 575-395-2595

  • Lea County Magistrate Court

    Address: 100 West Central Avenue, Lovington, NM 88260
    Phone: 575-396-6677 Fax: 575-396-6163

  • Lea County Magistrate Court

    Address: 22 East Broadway, PO Box 981, Tatum, NM 88267
    Phone: 575-398-5300 Fax: 575-398-5310

  • Eunice Municipal Court

    Address: 1323 Main Street, PO Box 147, Eunice, NM 88231
    Phone: 575-394-2635 Fax: 575-394-2019

  • Hobbs Municipal Court

    Address: 301 North Turner, Hobbs, NM 88240
    Phone: 575-397-9272 Fax: 575-397-9365

  • Jal Municipal Court

    Address: 400 South Highway 18, Drawer W, Jal, NM 88252
    Phone: 575-395-3314 Fax: 575-395-3473

  • Lovington Municipal Court

    Address: 213 South Love Street, Lovington, NM 88260
    Phone: 575-396-4043 Fax: 575-396-0161

  • Tatum Municipal Court

    Address: 10 North Avenue, PO Box 156, Tatum, NM 88267
    Phone: 575-398-8880 Fax: 575-398-8881

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