Niagara County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Niagara County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Niagara County.
What is the Burden of Proof?
The term “Burden of Proof” means that the prosecutor is required to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot provide proof of the defendants guilt, then the judge or jury in a trial must find the defendant not guilty. In the United States the principle innocent until proven guilty derives from this that the defendant is assumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
I need help for my Niagara 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 Niagara 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 Niagara 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.
Niagara County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Niagara County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Niagara County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In Niagara County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.
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.
Sentencing in Niagara County
In Niagara 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.
Where will Niagara County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Niagara County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Niagara County.
Required Court Appearances in Niagara County
Any required court appearances in Niagara 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.
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 Niagara 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.
Prosecutor in Niagara County
In Niagara County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Niagara County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent New York. For the most part, the prosecutor in Niagara County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
In a jury trial in Niagara 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.
Niagara County Criminal Court Locations
Niagara County Surrogate’s Court
Address: 175 Hawley Street, Lockport NY 14094
Phone: 716-439-7130 Fax: 716-439-7319
Niagara County Court
Address: 175 Hawley Street, Lockport NY 14094
Phone: 716-439-7148 Fax: 716-439-7157
Lockport City Court
Address: 1 Locks Plaza, Lockport NY 14094
Phone: 716-439-6660 Fax: 716-439-6684
Niagara Falls City Court
Address: 1925 Main Street, Niagara Falls NY 14305
Phone: 716-278-9800 Fax: 716-278-9809
North Tonawanda City Court
Address: 216 Payne Avenue, North Tonawanda NY 14120
Phone: 716-845-7241 Fax: 716-743-1754
Cambria Town Court
Address: 4160 Upper Mountain Road, Sanborn NY 14132
Hartland Town Court
Address: Town Hall, 8942 Ridge Road, Gasport NY 14067
Phone: 716-735-7239 Fax: 716-735-3504
Lewiston Town Court
Address: 1375 Ridge Road, PO Box 330, Lewiston NY 14092
Phone: 716-754-8213 Fax; 716-754-0741
Lockport Town Court
Address: 6564 Dysinger Road, Lockport NY 14094
Phone: 716-439-9528 Fax: 716-434-2931
Newfane Town Court
Address: 2896 Transit Road, Newfane NY 14108
Phone: 716-778-9292 Fax: 716-778-5793
Niagara Town Court
Address: 7105 Lockport Road, Niagara Falls NY 14305
Pendleton Justice Court
Address: 6570 Campbell Boulevard, Lockport NY 14094
Phone: 716-625-8833 Fax: 716-210-1056
Porter Justice Court
Address: 3265 Creek Road, Youngstown NY 14174
Phone: 716-745-7036 Ext. 6 Fax: 716-745-7859
Royalton Town Court
Address: Town Hall, 5316 Royalton Center Road, Middleport NY 14105
Phone: 716-772-2588 Fax: 716-772-7229
Somerset Town Court
Address: 8700 Haight Road, Barker NY 14012
Phone: 716-795-9193 Fax: 716-795-9401
Wheatfield Town Court
Address: Town Hall, 2800 Church Road, Wheatfield NY 14120
Phone: 716-694-6793 Fax: 716-694-3969
Wilson Justice Court
Address: 375 Lake Street, PO Box 537, Wilson NY 14172
Phone: 716-751-0549 Fax: 716-751-0549