Lincoln County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Lincoln County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Lincoln 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.
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 Lincoln 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.
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 Lincoln 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.
I need help for my Lincoln 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 Lincoln 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 Lincoln 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.
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.
Lincoln County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Lincoln County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Lincoln County. The Lincoln 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.
Where will Lincoln County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Lincoln County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Lincoln County.
If guilty, who sentences the defendant?
If the defendant is found guilty after the trial, the defendent will be sentenced. In some cases, this can occur at the same hearing the defendant is found guilty in court, in other cases a separate hearing will be required. Often the prosecution will request a particular sentence for the defendant and the judge will determine whether to enforce this sentence or impose a different sentence for the defendant.
What happens in Lincoln County at an arraignment?
In Lincoln 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.
Jury Deliberations in Lincoln County
In Lincoln 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.
Mandatory Appearances in Lincoln County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Lincoln 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.
Lincoln County Criminal Court Locations
Lincoln County 12th Judicial District Court
Address: 300 Central, PO Box 725, Carrizozo, NM 88301
Phone: 575-648-2432 Fax: 575-648-2581
Lincoln County Magistrate Court – Carrizozo Division
Address: 310 11th Street, Carrizozo, NM 88301
Phone: 575-648-2389 Fax: 575-648-2695
Lincoln County Magistrate Court – Ruidoso Division
Address: 301 US Highway 70, PO Box 2426, Ruidoso, NM 88345
Phone: 575-378-7022 Fax: 575-378-8508
Capitan Municipal Court
Address: 114 Lincoln Avenue, PO Box 246, Capitan, NM 88316
Phone: 575-354-2247 Fax: 575-354-2713
Carrizozo Municipal Court
Address: 1208 E Street, PO Box 874, Carrizozo, NM 88301
Phone: 575-648-2494 Fax: 575-648-2794
Ruidoso Downs Municipal Court
Address: 122 Downs Drive, PO Box 668, Ruidoso Downs, NM 88346
Phone: 575-378-5316 Fax: 575-378-5222
Ruidoso Municipal Court
Address: 421 Wingfield Street, PO Box 2330, Ruidoso, NM 88345
Phone: 575-257-9055 Fax: 575-257-7965