Grand Forks County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Grand Forks County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Grand Forks County.
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.
Sentencing in Grand Forks County
In Grand Forks 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.
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.
Grand Forks County Required Court Appearances
In Grand Forks 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.
Where will Grand Forks County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Grand Forks County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Grand Forks County.
Grand Forks County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Grand Forks County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Grand Forks County. The Grand Forks County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.
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 Grand Forks 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.
In a jury trial in Grand Forks 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.
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.
Who can help me in Grand Forks County?
For general information about your case the Grand Forks County court clerk will be able to provide legal information about your specific criminal case. Legal information is not legal advice though, the court clerk will only be able to provide information about your case, like date/time of hearings what will occur at the hearing and what you may be required to do in the hearing. They cannot provide advice about what you should do or what the best legal options may be for your particular case. Only an attorney can provide legal advice and this is your best place for information about your specific criminal proceeding. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney to represent you, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent you, this is most often a public defender.
What happens in Grand Forks County at an arraignment?
In Grand Forks 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.
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.
Grand Forks County Criminal Court Locations
Grand Forks County District Court
Address: 124 S 4th St, PO Box 5939, Grand Forks ND 58206
Phone: 701-787-2700 (Criminal) Fax: 701-787-2701
Emerado Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 130, Emerado ND 58228
Phone: 701-594-4542 Fax: 701-594-4521
Grand Forks Municipal Court
Address: 1701 N Washington St, PO Box 5324, Grand Forks ND 58206
Phone: 701-787-8160 Fax: 701-746-2519
Larimore Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 776, Larimore ND 58251
Phone: 701-343-2181 Fax: 701-343-2181
Northwood Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 397, Northwood ND 58267
Phone: 701-587-5370 Fax: 701-587-5829
Thompson Municipal Court
Address: 327 Crescent Dr, Thompson ND 58278