Tazewell County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Tazewell County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Tazewell County.
Sentencing in Tazewell County
In Tazewell 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.
Prosecutor in Tazewell County
In Tazewell County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Tazewell County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Virginia. For the most part, the prosecutor in Tazewell County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
Who can help me in Tazewell County?
For general information about your case the Tazewell 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.
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.
In a jury trial in Tazewell County, after both the prosecution and defense have rested, the judge will give instructions to the jury and jury deliberations will begin. The jury will convence in a private room to discuss and deliberate the innocence or guilt of the defendant. Once the jury arrives at a unimanous decision, they will inform the judge that they have reached a decision. They will return to the court and the verdict will be read aloud. If the jury cannot reach a unaminous decision, the jury is said to be deadlocked and a mistrial will be declared in the case.
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.
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.
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.
Mandatory Appearances in Tazewell County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Tazewell 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.
Arraignments in Tazewell County
During an arraignment in Tazewell 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 Tazewell 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 Tazewell County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
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.
Tazewell County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Tazewell County will take place at the Tazewell County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Tazewell County Criminal Court Locations.
Tazewell County Criminal Court Locations
Tazewell County Circuit Court – 29th Judicial Circuit
Address: 101 E Main St, # 202, Tazewell VA 24651
Phone: 276-988-1222 Fax: 276-988-7501
Tazewell County General District Court – 29th Judicial District
Address: 104 Court St, #3, Tazewell VA 24651
Phone: 276-385-1563 Fax: 276-988-6202
Tazewell County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
Address: 101 E Main St, PO Box 613, Tazewell VA 24651
Phone: 276-988-1290 Fax: 276-988-3726