Juniata County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Juniata County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Juniata County.
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.
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.
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.
If guilty, who sentences the defendant?
If the defendant is found guilty after the trial, the defendent will be sentenced. In some cases, this can occur at the same hearing the defendant is found guilty in court, in other cases a separate hearing will be required. Often the prosecution will request a particular sentence for the defendant and the judge will determine whether to enforce this sentence or impose a different sentence for the defendant.
Juniata County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Juniata County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Juniata 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 Juniata 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.
In a jury trial in Juniata 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.
Prosecutor in Juniata County
In Juniata County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Juniata County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Pennsylvania. For the most part, the prosecutor in Juniata County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
Mandatory Appearances in Juniata County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Juniata 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.
I need help for my Juniata 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 Juniata 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 Juniata 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.
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.
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.
Juniata County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Juniata County will take place at the Juniata County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Juniata County Criminal Court Locations.
Juniata County Criminal Court Locations
Juniata County Court of Common Pleas
Address: Bridge and Main St, PO Box 68, Mifflintown PA 17059
Phone: 717-436-7715 Fax: 717-436-7734
Juniata County Orphans’ Court
Address: 1 N Main St, PO Box 68, Mifflintown PA 17059
Phone: 717-436-7709 Fax: 717-436-7756
Juniata County Magisterial District Court 41-3-01
Address: 30 N Main St, PO Box 7, Mifflintown PA 17059
Phone: 717-436-7722 Fax: 717-436-7723
Juniata County Magisterial District Court 41-3-02
Address: 212 N Fourth St, PO Box 131, Port Royal PA 17082
Phone: 717-527-4949 Fax: 717-527-2998