Washington County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Washington County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Washington 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 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.
In a jury trial in Washington 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.
Who is the prosecutor for Washington County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Washington County criminal cases will either be a representative of Washington County or a representative from Pennsylvania. After reviewing evidence it is the prosecutor’s decision whether to file charges or drop a case. Most prosecutors have the ability to negotiate plea bargains, and determine how the case will be prosecuted.
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.
Washington County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Washington County will take place at the Washington County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Washington County Criminal Court Locations.
Where can I get help for my Washington 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 Washington 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.
Arraignments in Washington County
During an arraignment in Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
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 an attorney
The US Constitution’s Sixth Amendment ensures the right to an attorney regardless of whether or not you can afford one. In Washington County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Required Court Appearances in Washington County
Any required court appearances in Washington County Criminal Court must be attended by the defendant. Failure to appear in court at your required date and time may result in the judge issuing an arrest warrant.
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.
Washington County Criminal Court Locations
Washington County Court of Common Pleas – Clerk of Courts (Criminal)
Address: 1 S Main St, #1005, Washington PA 15301
Phone: 724-228-6787 Fax: 724-250-4658
Washington County Court of Common Pleas – Prothonotary (Civil)
Address: 1 S Main St, #1001, Washington PA 15301
Phone: 724-228-6770 Fax: 724-229-5913
Washington County Orphans’ Court
Address: 1 S Main St, #1002, Washington PA 15301
Phone: 724-228-6775 Fax: 724-250-4821
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-1-01
Address: 75 E Maiden St, Washington PA 15301
Phone: 724-228-8836 Fax: 724-228-6218
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-1-02
Address: 604B Park Ave, Monongahela PA 15063
Phone: 724-258-5106 Fax: 724-258-5145
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-1-03
Address: 416 Fallowfield Ave, Charleroi PA 15022
Phone: 724-483-6373 Fax: 724-483-3550
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-2-01
Address: 45 E Water St, Canonsburg PA 15317
Phone: 724-745-5754 Fax: 724-745-5763
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-3-01
Address: 453 Valleybrook Rd, #100, McMurray PA 15317
Phone: 724-941-1015 Fax: 724-942-8355
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-3-02
Address: 900 Main St, #120, Bentleyville PA 15314
Phone: 724-239-5050 Fax: 724-239-5522
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-3-03
Address: 685 National Pike W, Brownsville PA 15417
Phone: 724-632-3143 Fax: 724-632-3160
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-3-05
Address: 1929-A Route 519, Canonsburg PA 15317
Phone: 724-746-1227 Fax: 724-746-3145
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-3-06
Address: 3655 Millers Run Rd, Cecil PA 15321
Phone: 724-746-8515 Fax: 724-746-2501
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-3-07
Address: 2038 Smith Township State Rd, #3, Burgettstown PA 15021
Phone: 724-947-5492 Fax: 724-947-5523
Washington County Magisterial District Court 27-3-10
Address: 200 Buffalo Center Ln, Washington PA 15301
Phone: 724-222-8122 Fax: 724-225-4357