Torrance County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Torrance County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Torrance County.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.
Who is the prosecutor for Torrance County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Torrance County criminal cases will either be a representative of Torrance 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
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.
Torrance County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Torrance County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
What happens in Torrance County at an arraignment?
In Torrance 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.
Where can I get help for my Torrance 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 Torrance 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 Torrance 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.
Torrance County Required Court Appearances
In Torrance 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.
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.
Jury Deliberations in Torrance County
In Torrance 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.
Appealing a guilty verdict
A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all charges.
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.
Torrance County Criminal Court Locations
Torrance County 7th Judicial District Court
Address: 903 North 5th Street, PO Box 274, Estancia, NM 87016
Phone: 505-384-2974 Fax: 505-384-2229
Torrance County Magistrate Court
Address: 1100 US Route 66 Ave, PO Box 2027, Moriarty NM 87035
Phone: 505-832-4476 Fax: 505-832-1563
Estancia Municipal Court
Address: 512 Williams Avenue, PO Box 166, Estancia, NM 87016
Phone: 505-384-0512 Fax: 505-384-5218
Moriarty Municipal Court
Address: 201 Broadway Street, Moriarty, NM 87035
Phone: 505-832-6354 Fax: 505-832-2591
Mountainair Municipal Court
Address: 109 North Roosevelt Avenue, PO Box 115, Mountainair, NM 87036
Phone: 505-847-2595 Fax: 505-847-2746