Columbia County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Columbia County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Columbia County.
Prosecutor in Columbia County
In Columbia County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Columbia County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Pennsylvania. For the most part, the prosecutor in Columbia County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
Mandatory Appearances in Columbia County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Columbia 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.
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.
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.
Sentencing in Columbia County
In Columbia 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.
Columbia County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Columbia County will take place at the Columbia County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Columbia County Criminal Court Locations.
Columbia County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Columbia County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Columbia 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 Columbia 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.
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.
Jury Deliberations in Columbia County
In Columbia 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.
Who can help me in Columbia County?
For general information about your case the Columbia 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.
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 Columbia County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
What is a Plea Agreement?
A plea agreement is a deal made between the prosecution and the defendant in a case, where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to a particular charge in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. In practice, more than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea agreement.
Columbia County Criminal Court Locations
Columbia County Court of Common Pleas
Address: 35 W Main St, PO Box 380, Bloomsburg PA 17815
Phone: 570-389-5614 Fax: 570-389-5620
Columbia County Magisterial District Court 26-2-01
Address: 700 Sawmill Rd, #102, Bloomsburg PA 17815
Phone: 570-784-1868 Fax: 570-784-9061
Columbia County Magisterial District Court 26-3-01
Address: 673 N State St, Millville PA 17846
Phone: 570-458-5501 Fax: 570-458-0252
Columbia County Magisterial District Court 26-3-02
Address: 339 W Front St, Berwick PA 18603
Phone: 570-759-0359 Fax: 570-759-9230
Columbia County Magisterial District Court 26-3-03
Address: 400 Fisher Ave, Catawissa PA 17820
Phone: 570-356-2309 Fax: 570-356-2019