Valencia County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Valencia County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Valencia County.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Valencia 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.
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.
What happens in Valencia County at an arraignment?
In Valencia 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.
Sentencing in Valencia County
In Valencia 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.
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.
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 Valencia County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Required Court Appearances in Valencia County
Any required court appearances in Valencia County Criminal Court must be attended by the defendant. Failure to appear in court at your required date and time may result in the judge issuing an arrest warrant.
Where can I get help for my Valencia 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 Valencia 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.
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.
Valencia County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Valencia County will take place at the Valencia County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Valencia County Criminal Court Locations.
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.
Prosecutor in Valencia County
In Valencia County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Valencia County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent New Mexico. For the most part, the prosecutor in Valencia County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
Valencia County Criminal Court Locations
Valencia County 13th Judicial District Court
Address: 1835 Highway 314 SW, PO Box 1089, Los Lunas, NM 87031
Phone: 505-865-4639 Fax: 505-865-8801
Valencia County Magistrate Court – Belen Division
Address: 901 West Castillo, Belen, NM 87002
Phone: 505-864-7509 Fax: 505-864-9532
Valencia County Magistrate Court – Los Lunas Division
Address: 1206 Main Street, Los Lunas, NM 87031
Phone: 505-865-4637 Fax: 505-865-0639
Belen Municipal Court
Address: 525 Becker Avenue, Belen, NM 87002
Phone: 505-966-2670 Fax: 505-864-0361
Bosque Farms Municipal Court
Address: 1455 West Bosque Loop, Bosque Farms, NM 87068
Phone: 505-869-9231 Fax: 505-869-6898
Los Lunas Municipal Court
Address: 660 Main Street NW, Los Lunas, NM 87031
Phone: 505-839-3844 Fax: 505-352-3581