Hanover County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Hanover County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Hanover County.
Who can help me in Hanover County?
For general information about your case the Hanover 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.
Hanover County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Hanover County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
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.
Hanover County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Hanover County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Hanover 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 Hanover 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prosecutor in Hanover County
In Hanover County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Hanover County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Virginia. For the most part, the prosecutor in Hanover County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
Required Court Appearances in Hanover County
Any required court appearances in Hanover 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.
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.
Hanover County Criminal Court Locations
Hanover County Circuit Court – 15th Judicial Circuit
Address: 7507 Library Dr, PO Box 39, Hanover VA 23069
Hanover County General District Court – 15th Judicial District
Address: 7515 Library Dr, PO Box 176, Hanover VA 23069
Phone: 804-365-6457 (Civil) Fax; 804-365-6436
Hanover County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
Address: 7515 Library Dr, PO Box 86, Hanover VA 23069
Phone: 804-365-6200 Fax: 804-365-6246