Shenandoah County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Shenandoah County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Shenandoah 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.
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.
Sentencing in Shenandoah County
In Shenandoah County if the defendant is found guilty (by trial or plea), the defendant will be sentenced. This sometimes occurrs immediately after being found guilty, but can also take place at a later date. In most instances, a judge will impose the sentence that is requested by the prosecution, but they also have the descretion to impose a different sentence.
Who can help me in Shenandoah County?
For general information about your case the Shenandoah 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.
Prosecutor in Shenandoah County
In Shenandoah County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Shenandoah County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Virginia. For the most part, the prosecutor in Shenandoah County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
In a jury trial in Shenandoah 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.
Where will Shenandoah County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Shenandoah County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Shenandoah 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.
Required Court Appearances in Shenandoah County
Any required court appearances in Shenandoah 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.
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.
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 Shenandoah County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
What happens in Shenandoah County at an arraignment?
In Shenandoah 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.
Shenandoah County Criminal Court Locations
Shenandoah County Circuit Court – 26th Judicial Circuit
Address: 112 S Main St, PO Box 406, Woodstock VA 22664
Phone: 540-459-6150 Fax: 540-459-6155
Shenandoah County General District Court – 26th Judicial District
Address: 215 Mill Rd, #128, Woodstock VA 22664
Phone: 540-459-6130 Fax: 540-459-7279
Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
Address: 215 Mill Rd, #228, Woodstock VA 22664
Phone: 540-459-6135 Fax: 540-459-8286