Somerset County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Somerset County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Somerset County.
What is the Burden of Proof?
The term “Burden of Proof” means that the prosecutor is required to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot provide proof of the defendants guilt, then the judge or jury in a trial must find the defendant not guilty. In the United States the principle innocent until proven guilty derives from this that the defendant is assumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
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.
Somerset County Required Court Appearances
In Somerset 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.
Somerset County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Somerset County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
Arraignments in Somerset County
During an arraignment in Somerset 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 Somerset 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 Somerset County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
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 Somerset 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.
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.
Who can help me in Somerset County?
For general information about your case the Somerset 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.
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.
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.
Somerset County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Somerset County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Somerset County. The Somerset 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.
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.
Somerset County Criminal Court Locations
Somerset County Court of Common Pleas – Clerk of Courts (Criminal)
Address: 111 E Union St, #110, Somerset PA 15501
Somerset County Court of Common Pleas – Prothonotary (Civil)
Address: 111 E Union St, #165, Somerset PA 15501
Phone: 814-445-1428 Fax: 814-445-9270
Somerset County Orphans’ Court
Address: 111 E Union St, #145, Somerset PA 15501
Phone: 814-445-1458 Fax: 814-445-1542
Somerset County Magisterial District Court 16-3-01
Address: 805 Atkinson Way, PO Box 55, Boswell PA 15531
Phone: 814-629-9775 Fax: 814-629-6632
Somerset County Magisterial District Court 16-3-02
Address: 509 15th St, #2, Windber PA 15963
Phone: 814-467-5113 Fax: 814-467-4748
Somerset County Magisterial District Court 16-3-03
Address: 218 N Kimberly Ave, #200, Somerset PA 15501
Phone: 814-445-1535 Fax: 814-445-1559
Somerset County Magisterial District Court 16-3-05
Address: 616 Logan Pl, PO Box 72, Confluence PA 15424
Phone: 814-395-5013 Fax: 814-395-5694
Somerset County Magisterial District Court 16-3-06
Address: 315 Grant St, PO Box 203, Meyersdale PA 15552
Phone: 814-634-0614 Fax: 814-634-8960