Lehigh County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Lehigh County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Lehigh County.
Lehigh County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Lehigh County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Lehigh County. The Lehigh 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.
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.
Who can help me in Lehigh County?
For general information about your case the Lehigh 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 Lehigh County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
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.
Mandatory Appearances in Lehigh County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Lehigh 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.
Can I appeal a guilty verdict?
If found guilty, a defendant may decide to appeal his case to an appelate court. The appellate court will not retry the case, they will examine the proceedings in the lower court to make sure they were done in a legal manner. The appellate court can either uphold the original conviction, or determine that due to errors made in the original trial, that there must be a retrial, resentencing or a complete dismissal of the charges.
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 Lehigh 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.
Jury Deliberations in Lehigh County
In Lehigh 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.
What happens in Lehigh County at an arraignment?
In Lehigh 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.
Where will Lehigh County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Lehigh County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Lehigh County.
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.
Lehigh County Criminal Court Locations
Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas
Address: 455 W Hamilton St, #122, Allentown PA 18101
Phone: 610-782-3148 (Civil) Fax: 610-871-2895
Lehigh County Orphans’ Court
Address: 455 W Hamilton St, #123, Allentown PA 18101
Phone:610-782-3172 Fax: 610-782-3928
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-1-01
Address: 1201 Sumner Ave, Allentown PA 18102
Phone: 610-432-3080 Fax: 610-433-0130
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-1-02
Address: 1216 W Liberty St, Allentown PA 18102
Phone: 610-432-8700 Fax: 610-432-0140
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-1-03
Address: 930 W Hamilton St, Allentown PA 18101
Phone: 610-434-7903 Fax: 610-434-0213
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-1-04
Address: 1501 Lehigh St, #104, Allentown PA 18103
Phone: 610-797-0906 Fax: 610-797-3292
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-1-05
Address: 1801 Union Blvd, #112, Allentown PA 18109
Phone: 610-439-0661 Fax: 610-439-1257
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-1-06
Address: 565 W Lehigh St, Bethlehem PA 18018
Phone: 610-691-3950 Fax: 610-691-0471
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-1-07
Address: 3678 Crescent Court E, Whitehall PA 18052
Phone: 610-437-6096 Fax: 610-437-3462
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-1-08
Address: 3000 S Pike Ave, Allentown PA 18103
Phone: 610-797-8724 Fax: 610-791-1401
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-2-01
Address: 501 Hamilton St, Allentown PA 18101
Phone: 610-782-3834 Fax: 610-770-2793
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-2-02
Address: 3404 Hamilton Blvd, Allentown PA 18103
Phone: 610-434-2070 Fax: 610-434-0215
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-2-03
Address: 106 Main St, Emmaus PA 18049
Phone: 610-967-2888 Fax: 610-966-5686
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-3-01
Address: 106 S Walnut St, Slatington PA 18080
Phone: 610-767-8641 Fax: 610-767-0164
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-3-02
Address: 5925 Tilghman St, #500, Allentown PA 18104
Phone: 610-398-1167 Fax: 610-398-2185
Lehigh County Magisterial District Court 31-3-03
Address: 21 N Main St, PO Box 47, Coopersburg PA 18036
Phone: 610-282-1555 Fax: 610-282-2642