Taos County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Taos County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Taos County.
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.
Sentencing in Taos County
In Taos 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.
Taos County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Taos County will take place at the Taos County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Taos County Criminal Court Locations.
Arraignments in Taos County
During an arraignment in Taos 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 Taos 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 Taos County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
Where can I get help for my Taos County criminal case?
The 6th amendment of the United States Constitution provides a criminal defendant with the right to an attorney. As read in the miranda rights, this means that if a defendant cannot afford to hire a private attorney a legal attorney will be appointed to the defendant to represent him at no cost to the defendant. This is often a public defender. In addition, the court clerk for Taos County will also be able to provide general information about a specific criminal case. The clerk can only provide information and is not an attorney so they cannot provide legal advice, only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice about what the best options for are for your particular case.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Taos 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.
In a jury trial in Taos 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.
Who is the prosecutor for Taos County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Taos County criminal cases will either be a representative of Taos 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.
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.
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.
Mandatory Appearances in Taos County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Taos 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.
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.
Taos County Criminal Court Locations
Taos County 8th Judicial District Court
Address: 105 Albright Street, Suite H, Taos, NM 87571
Phone: 575-758-3173 Fax: 575-751-1281
Taos County Magistrate Court
Address: 522 State Road, Questa, NM 87556
Phone: 575-586-0761 Fax: 575-586-0428
Taos County Magistrate Court
Address: 105 Albright Street, Taos, NM 87571
Questa Municipal Court
Address: 2500 Old State Road 3, PO Box 1162, Questa, NM 87556
Phone: 575-586-1313 Fax: 575-586-2441
Red River Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 964, Red River. NM 87558
Phone: 575-754-3464 Fax: 575-754-2944
Taos Municipal Court
Address: 114 Civic Plaza Drive, Suite D, Taos, NM 87571
Phone: 575-737-2602 Fax: 575-737-2604