Ritchie County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Ritchie County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Ritchie County.
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.
Sentencing in Ritchie County
In Ritchie 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.
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.
Ritchie County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Ritchie County will take place at the Ritchie County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Ritchie County Criminal Court Locations.
Appealing a guilty verdict
A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all 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.
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 Ritchie County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Required Court Appearances in Ritchie County
Any required court appearances in Ritchie 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.
Ritchie County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Ritchie County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Ritchie 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 Ritchie 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.
Jury Deliberations in Ritchie County
In Ritchie County, 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.
Who can help me in Ritchie County?
For general information about your case the Ritchie 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.
Ritchie County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Ritchie County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Ritchie County. The Ritchie 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.
Ritchie County Criminal Court Locations
Ritchie County Circuit Court
Address: 115 East Main Street, Room 301, Harrisville, WV 26362
Phone: 304-643-2164 Ext. 229 Fax: 304-643-2534
Ritchie County Magistrate Court
Address: 130 North Court Street, Harrisville, WV 26362
Phone: 304-643-4409 Fax: 304-643-2098
Auburn Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 37, Auburn, WV 26325
Phone: 304-349-2257 Fax: 304-349-2494
Cairo Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 162, Cairo, WV 26337
Phone: 304-628-3843 Fax: 304-628-3477
Ellenboro Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 123, Ellenboro, WV 26346
Harrisville Municipal Court
Address: 1501 East Main Street, PO Box 243, Harrisville, WV 26362
Phone: 304-643-2719 Fax: 304-643-4059
Pennsboro Municipal Court
Address: 422 Main Street, Pennsboro, WV 26415
Phone: 304-659-2377 Fax: 304-659-3309
Pullman Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 107, Pullman, WV 26421