Erie County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Erie County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Erie County.
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.
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.
Erie County Required Court Appearances
In Erie 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.
Sentencing in Erie County
In Erie 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.
Erie County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Erie County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Erie County. The Erie 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.
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.
Right to Jury Trial
For “Serious Crimes”, those that can have a potential penalty of 6 months in jail OR a minimum $500 penalty, the US Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury. This is guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution and the 6th Amendment. The accused has the ability to waive their right to trial by jury.
Erie County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Erie County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Erie 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 Erie 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.
Where can I get help for my Erie 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 Erie 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.
What is Jury Deliberation?
After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.
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.
Erie County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Erie County will take place at the Erie County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Erie County Criminal Court Locations.
Erie County Criminal Court Locations
Erie County Court of Common Pleas
Address: 140 W 6th St, #120, Erie PA 16501
Phone: 814-451-6250 Fax: 814-451-6213
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-1-01
Address: 824 E 6th St, Erie PA 16507
Phone: 814-451-6524 Fax: 814-451-6515
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-1-02
Address: 1021 Parade St, Erie PA 16503
Phone: 814-451-6530 Fax: 814-451-6512
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-1-03
Address: 904 W 12th St, Erie PA 16501
Phone: 814-451-6528 Fax: 814-451-6529
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-1-04
Address: 460 E 26th St, Erie PA 16504
Phone: 814-451-6522 Fax: 814-451-6523
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-1-05
Address: 1563 W 38th St, Erie PA 16508
Phone: 814-451-6520 Fax: 814-451-6514
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-2-01
Address: 556 W 4th St, Erie PA 16507
Phone: 814-451-6526 Fax: 814-451-6534
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-2-02
Address: 3608 W 26th St, #104, Erie PA 16506
Phone: 814-451-6518 Fax: 814-451-6519
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-2-04
Address: 732 Worth St, Corry PA 16407
Phone: 814-665-7285 Fax: 814-664-3919
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-3-01
Address: 3921 Buffalo Rd, Erie PA 16510
Phone: 814-451-6516 Fax: 814-451-7499
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-3-02
Address: 10300 W Main Rd, PO Box 8, North East PA 16428
Phone: 814-725-9693 Fax: 814-725-9695
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-3-03
Address: 9333 Tate Rd, #109, Erie PA 16509
Phone: 814-451-6511 Fax: 814-451-7417
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-3-04
Address: 132 N Main St, Union City PA 16438
Phone: 814-438-3855 Fax: 814-438-9107
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-3-05
Address: 1230 Townhall Rd West, #300, Erie PA 16509
Phone: 814-451-6532 Fax: 814-866-1021
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-3-06
Address: 8952 Main St, PO Box 53, McKean PA 16426
Phone: 814-476-7734 Fax: 814-476-7735
Erie County Magisterial District Court 06-3-08
Address: 6880 Route 215, PO Box 157, East Springfield PA 16411
Phone: 814-922-7117 Fax: 814-922-7118