Adams County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Adams County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Adams County.
Who is the prosecutor for Adams County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Adams County criminal cases will either be a representative of Adams County or a representative from Pennsylvania. 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.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Adams 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.
Mandatory Appearances in Adams County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Adams County, the defendant must appear before the court. In the event of a “Failure to Appear” the judge may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Note: not all criminal hearings are mandatory, in a non-mandatory hearing an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being in court.
Adams County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Adams County will take place at the Adams County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Adams County Criminal Court Locations.
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.
Arraignments in Adams County
During an arraignment in Adams 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 Adams 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 Adams County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
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.
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.
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.
Jury Deliberations in Adams County
In Adams 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.
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.
I need help for my Adams 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 Adams 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 Adams 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.
Adams County Criminal Court Locations
Adams County Court of Common Pleas – Clerk of Courts (Criminal)
Address: 117 Baltimore St, #103, Gettysburg PA 17325
Phone: 717-337-9806 Fax: 717-334-9333
Adams County Court of Common Pleas – Prothonotary (Civil)
Address: 117 Baltimore St, #104, Gettysburg PA 17325
Phone: 717-337-9834 Fax: 717-334-0532
Adams County Orphans’ Court
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Adams County Magisterial District Court 51-3-01
Address: 34 E Middle St, Gettysburg PA 17325
Phone: 717-334-7913 Fax: 717-334-1262
Adams County Magisterial District Court 51-3-02
Address: 45 W Hanover St, #D, Gettysburg PA 17325
Phone: 717-334-7810 Fax: 717-334-3226
Adams County Magisterial District Court 51-3-03
Address: 40 Church Rd, East Berlin PA 17316
Phone: 717-624-7138 Fax: 717-624-1201
Adams County Magisterial District Court 51-3-04
Address: 2267 Fairfield Rd, Gettysburg PA 17325
Phone: 717-337-3870 Fax: 717-337-0934