Hancock County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Hancock County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Hancock County.
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.
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.
Hancock County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Hancock County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
Where can I get help for my Hancock 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 Hancock 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.
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.
What happens in Hancock County at an arraignment?
In Hancock 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.
Mandatory Appearances in Hancock County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Hancock County, the defendant must appear before the court. In the event of a “Failure to Appear” the judge may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Note: not all criminal hearings are mandatory, in a non-mandatory hearing an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being in court.
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 Hancock County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
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.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof is always on the prosecution in a criminal trial. In other words, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The defense must only prove that there is a reasonable possibility that the defendant did NOT commit the crime. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury will be instructed to find the defendant not-guilty.
Prosecutor in Hancock County
In Hancock County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Hancock County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent West Virginia. For the most part, the prosecutor in Hancock County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
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 Hancock 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.
Hancock County Criminal Court Locations
Hancock County Circuit Court
Address: 102 North Court Street, PO Box 428, New Cumberland, WV 26047
Phone: 304-564-3311 Fax: 304-564-5014
Hancock County Magistrate Court
Address: 900 North Chester Street, PO Box 626, New Cumberland, WV 26047
Phone: 304-564-3080 Fax: 304-564-5357
Chester Municipal Court
Address: 600 Indiana Avenue, Chester, WV 26034
Phone: 304-387-2820 Fax: 304-387-2766
New Cumberland Municipal Court
Address: 104 North Court Street, PO Box 505, New Cumberland, WV 26047
Phone: 304-564-3383 Fax: 304-564-3777
Weirton Municipal Court
Address: 200 Municipal Plaza, Weirton, WV 26062
Phone: 304-797-8508 Fax: 304-797-5716