Columbia County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Columbia County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Columbia County.
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.
Who is the prosecutor for Columbia County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Columbia County criminal cases will either be a representative of Columbia County or a representative from Wisconsin. 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.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Columbia County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.
Required Court Appearances in Columbia County
Any required court appearances in Columbia 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.
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.
At a sentence hearing the judge will inform the defendant of the sentence that will be imposed. This sometimes occurs at the same hearing in which the defendant is found guilty (either by trial or plea agreement). In can also occur at a later date, most often this is due to the complexity of the case where more time is needed to determine the appropriate sentence.
Columbia County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Columbia County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Columbia 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 Columbia 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.
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.
Where can I get help for my Columbia 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 Columbia 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.
Columbia County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Columbia County will take place at the Columbia County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Columbia County Criminal Court Locations.
Jury Deliberations in Columbia County
In Columbia 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.
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 Columbia County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Columbia County Criminal Court Locations
Columbia County Circuit Court
Address: 400 DeWitt Street, PO Box 587, Portage WI 53901
Phone: 608-742-9640 Fax: 608-742-9601
City of Wisconsin Dells Municipal Court
Address: 300 La Crosse Street, PO Box 235, Wisconsin Dells WI 53965
Phone: 608-254-2442 Fax: 608-254-7329
Eastern Columbia County Joint Municipal Court
Address: 641 South Main Street, PO Box 96, Fall River WI 53922
Phone: 920-484-6320 Fax: 920-484-6321
Portage Municipal Court
Address: 115 West Pleasant Street, Portage WI 53901
Phone: 608-742-2258 Fax: 608-742-8623