Jefferson County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Jefferson County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Jefferson County.
Where can I get help for my Jefferson 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 Jefferson 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.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Jefferson 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.
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.
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.
Jefferson County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Jefferson County will take place at the Jefferson County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Jefferson County Criminal Court Locations.
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.
Jefferson County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Jefferson County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Jefferson County. The Jefferson 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.
Jefferson County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Jefferson County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Jefferson 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 Jefferson 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 Jefferson County
In Jefferson 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.
The Right to Counsel
The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.s. Constitution give defendants in criminal cases the right to counsel/attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to represent you. Like other rights a defendant has, this one can be waived as well and alternatively you can choose to represent yourself.
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.
Mandatory Appearances in Jefferson County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Jefferson 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.
Jefferson County Criminal Court Locations
Jefferson County Circuit Court
Address: 119 North George Street, PO Box 1234, Charles Town, WV 25414
Phone: 304-728-3231 Fax: 304-728-3398
Jefferson County Magistrate Court
Address: 110 North George Street, PO Box 607, Charles Town, WV 25414
Phone: 304-728-3233 Ext. 342 Fax: 304-728-3235
Bolivar Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 551, Bolivar, WV 25425
Charles Town Municipal Court
Address: 101 East Washington Street, PO Box 14, Charles Town, WV 25414
Harpers Ferry Municipal Court
Address: 1000 Washington Street, PO Box 217, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
Ranson Municipal Court
Address: 312 South Mildred Street, Ranson, WV 25438
Shepherdstown Municipal Court
Address: 104 North King Street, PO Box 237, Shepherdstown, WV 25443