Douglas County Criminal Court

Douglas County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Douglas County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Douglas County.

Where can I get help for my Douglas 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 Douglas 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 happens in Douglas County at an arraignment?

In Douglas 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.

Douglas County Criminal Court

Douglas County Criminal Court

Douglas County Required Court Appearances

In Douglas 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.

Defendant Sentencing

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.

Where will Douglas County criminal case hearings take place?

Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Douglas County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Douglas County.

Jury by Trial Right

The US Constitution (Article 3 along with the 6th Amendment) ensures an accused defendant the right to a jury trial. This applies to crimes that have a $500 fine or a potential sentence of six months in jail (aka Serious Crimes). This right to trial by jury can also be waived by a defendant.

The Right to Counsel

The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.s. Constitution give defendants in criminal cases the right to counsel/attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to represent you. Like other rights a defendant has, this one can be waived as well and alternatively you can choose to represent yourself.

Appealing a guilty verdict

A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all charges.

Who is the prosecutor for Douglas County?

Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Douglas County criminal cases will either be a representative of Douglas County or a representative from South Dakota. 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.

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.

Jury Deliberation

In a jury trial in Douglas 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.

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.

Douglas County Criminal Court Locations

  • Douglas County Circuit Court

    Address: 706 Braddock, PO Box 36, Armour SD 57313
    Phone: 605-724-2585 Fax: 605-724-2508

  • Douglas County Magistrate Court

    Address: 706 Braddock, PO Box 36, Armour SD 57313
    Phone: 605-724-2585 Fax: 605-724-2508

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