Harrisonburg Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Harrisonburg. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Harrisonburg.
Prosecutor in Harrisonburg
In Harrisonburg, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Harrisonburg. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Virginia. For the most part, the prosecutor in Harrisonburg has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
Arraignments in Harrisonburg
During an arraignment in Harrisonburg, 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 Harrisonburg, 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 Harrisonburg the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
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 Deliberations in Harrisonburg
In Harrisonburg, 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.
Harrisonburg Required Court Appearances
In Harrisonburg, 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.
Where will Harrisonburg criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Harrisonburg. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Harrisonburg.
Burden of Proof Requirement
In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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 Harrisonburg a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
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.
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.
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.
I need help for my Harrisonburg 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 Harrisonburg 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 Harrisonburg 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.
Harrisonburg Criminal Court Locations
Rockingham County Circuit Court – 26th Judicial Circuit
Address: 80 Court Square, Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Phone: 540-564-3111 Fax: 540-564-3127
Harrisonburg/Rockingham General District Court – 26th Judicial District
Address: 53 Court Square, #132, Harrisonburg VA 22801
Phone: 540-564-3130 Fax: 540-564-3096
Harrisonburg/Rockingham Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
Address: 53 Court Square, #214, Harrisonburg VA 22801
Phone: 540-564-3370 Fax: 540-564-3378