Los Alamos County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Los Alamos County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Los Alamos County.
Mandatory Appearances in Los Alamos County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Los Alamos 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.
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.
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.
What is Jury Deliberation?
After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.
Arraignments in Los Alamos County
During an arraignment in Los Alamos 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 Los Alamos 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 Los Alamos County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
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.
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.
Prosecutor in Los Alamos County
In Los Alamos County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Los Alamos County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent New Mexico. For the most part, the prosecutor in Los Alamos County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
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.
Who can help me in Los Alamos County?
For general information about your case the Los Alamos 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.
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 Los Alamos County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Los Alamos County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Los Alamos County will take place at the Los Alamos County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Los Alamos County Criminal Court Locations.
Los Alamos County Criminal Court Locations
Los Alamos County 1st Judicial District Court
Address: 2500 Trinity Drive, Suite D, Los Alamos, NM 87544
Los Alamos County Magistrate Court
Address: 2500 Trinity Drive, Los Alamos, NM 87544
Phone: 505-662-2727 Fax: 505-661-6258
Los Alamos Municipal Court
Address: 2500 Trinity Drive, Los Alamos, NM 87544
Phone: 505-662-8025 Fax: 505-662-8365