Putnam County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Putnam County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Putnam 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.
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.
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 Putnam County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Putnam County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Putnam County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
Sentencing in Putnam County
In Putnam 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.
Mandatory Appearances in Putnam County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Putnam 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.
Where can I get help for my Putnam 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 Putnam 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.
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.
Putnam County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Putnam County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Putnam County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In Putnam County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.
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.
Who is the prosecutor for Putnam County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Putnam County criminal cases will either be a representative of Putnam County or a representative from West Virginia. 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.
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.
Putnam County Criminal Court Locations
Putnam County Circuit Court
Address: 12093 Winfield Road, Winfield, WV 25213
Phone: 304-586-0203 Fax: 304-586-0221
Putnam County Magistrate Court
Address: 12093 Winfield Road, Suite 15, Winfield, WV 25213
Phone: 304-586-0234 Fax: 304-586-0267
Bancroft Municipal Court
Address: 14 B Main Street, PO Box 58, Bancroft, WV 25011
Phone: 304-586-1227 Fax: 304-586-3367
Eleanor Municipal Court
Address: 201 Ash Circle, PO Box 185, Eleanor, WV 25070
Phone: 304-586-1200 Fax: 304-586-1324
Hurricane Municipal Court
Address: 3255 Teays Valley Road, PO Box 1086, Hurricane, WV 25526
Phone: 304-562-5896 Fax: 304-562-5858
Poca Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 586, Poca, WV 25159
Phone: 304-755-5482 Fax: 304-755-5102
Winfield Municipal Court
Address: 1 Main Street, PO Box 596, Winfield, WV 25213
Phone: 304-586-2122 Fax: 304-586-5318