Pender County Criminal Court

Pender County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Pender County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Pender County.

Defendant Sentencing

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.

Pender County Criminal Court

Pender County Criminal Court

Plea Agreements

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 Pender 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.

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.

Where can I get help for my Pender 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 Pender 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.

Where will Pender County criminal case hearings take place?

Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Pender County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Pender County.

Pender County Required Court Appearances

In Pender 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.

Prosecutor in Pender County

In Pender County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Pender County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent North Carolina. For the most part, the prosecutor in Pender County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.

Arraignments in Pender County

During an arraignment in Pender 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 Pender 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 Pender County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.

Jury Deliberation

In a jury trial in Pender 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.

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.

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.

Pender County Criminal Court Locations

  • Pender County Superior Court

    Address: 100 Wright Street, PO Box 310, Burgaw NC 28425
    Phone: 910-663-3900 Fax: 910-663-3901

  • Pender County Superior Court

    Address: 100 Dickerson Street, PO Box 308, Burgaw NC 28425
    Phone: 910-663-3900 Fax: 910-663-3901

  • Pender County District Court

    Address: 100 Wright Street, PO Box 310, Burgaw NC 28425
    Phone: 910-663-3900 Fax: 910-663-3901

  • Pender County District Court

    Address: 100 Dickerson Street, PO Box 308, Burgaw NC 28425
    Phone: 910-663-3900 Fax: 910-663-3901

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