Howard County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Howard County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Howard County.
Arraignments in Howard County
During an arraignment in Howard County, a defendant appears before the court and the judge reads the charges that have been filed against the accused and also informs the defendant of his/her rights. During the arraignment in Howard County, the defendant can choose to plead one of the following 1) Guilty 2) Not Guilty or 3) No Contest. If the defendant enters a plea of Not Guilty, a date for trial is set. In the event of a Guilty or No Contest Plea in Howard County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
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.
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 Howard County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Howard County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Howard County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
Howard County Required Court Appearances
In Howard 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.
Where can I get help for my Howard 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 Howard 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.
Who is the prosecutor for Howard County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Howard County criminal cases will either be a representative of Howard County or a representative from Texas. 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 Howard 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.
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.
Sentencing in Howard County
In Howard 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.
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.
Howard County Criminal Court Locations
Howard County 118th District Court
Address: 312 Scurry St, PO Box 2138, Big Spring TX 79721
Phone: 432-264-2223 Fax: 432-264-2256
Howard County Constitutional Court
Address: 300 Main St, #104, PO Box 1468, Big Spring TX 79721
Phone: 432-264-2213 Fax: 432-264-2215
Howard County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 – Place 1
Address: 300 Main St, #211, Big Spring TX 79720
Phone: 432-264-2226 Fax: 432-264-2227
Howard County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 – Place 2
Address: 300 Main St, #200, Big Spring TX 79720
Phone: 432-264-2228 Fax: 432-264-2268
Howard County Justice of the Peace Precinct 2
Address: 110 N First St, PO Box 346, Coahoma TX 79511
Phone: 432-394-4000 Fax: 432-394-4005
Big Spring Municipal Court
Address: 305 Johnson St, Big Spring TX 79720
Phone: 432-264-2530 Fax: 432-264-2410