Pleasants County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Pleasants County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Pleasants County.
Where can I get help for my Pleasants 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 Pleasants 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.
Pleasants County Required Court Appearances
In Pleasants 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.
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.
In a jury trial in Pleasants 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.
Pleasants County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Pleasants County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Pleasants County. The Pleasants County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.
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.
What happens in Pleasants County at an arraignment?
In Pleasants 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.
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.
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.
Pleasants County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Pleasants County will take place at the Pleasants County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Pleasants County Criminal Court Locations.
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.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.
Pleasants County Criminal Court Locations
Pleasants County Circuit Court
Address: 301 Court Lane, St. Marys, WV 26170
Phone: 304-684-3513 Fax: 304-684-3514
Pleasants County Magistrate Court
Address: 301 Court Lane, Room B-6, St. Marys, WV 26170
Phone: 304-684-7197 Fax: 304-684-3882
Belmont Municipal Court
Address: 218 Main Street, PO Box 375, Belmont, WV 26134
Phone: 304-665-2160 Fax: 304-665-2901
St. Marys Municipal Court
Address: 418 2nd Street, Saint Marys, WV 26170
Phone: 304-684-2401 Fax: 304-684-2463