Mercer County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Mercer County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Mercer County.
A Plea Agreement, sometimes known as a Plea Bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant, where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest often in exchange for a lesser charge or lighter recommended sentence. A large majority of criminal cases end in a plea agreement. In Mercer County you can inform your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution to attempt to come to a plea agreement, but this is dependent upon the charge severity and also the prosecutors willingness to accept a plea deal.
Mercer County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Mercer County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Mercer County. The Mercer 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.
Sentencing in Mercer County
In Mercer 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.
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.
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.
Mercer County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Mercer County will take place at the Mercer County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Mercer County Criminal Court Locations.
In a jury trial in Mercer 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 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.
Mercer County Required Court Appearances
In Mercer 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.
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.
What happens in Mercer County at an arraignment?
In Mercer County the defendant is brought into court and informed by the judge of the charges that have been filed against them along with informing them of their rights. At this time, the defendant can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, there will be no trial and the defendant may be sentenced immediately or at a later date. If the defendant pleads not guilty a trial date is set.
Who can help me in Mercer County?
For general information about your case the Mercer 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.
Mercer County Criminal Court Locations
Mercer County Circuit Court
Address: 1501 Main Street, Princeton, WV 24740
Phone: 304-487-8323 Fax: 304-425-1598
Mercer County Magistrate Court
Address: 120 Scott Street, Suite 103, Princeton, WV 24740
Phone: 304-431-7115 Fax: 304-425-8063
Athens Municipal Court
Address: 208 South State Street, PO Box 458, Athens, WV 24712
Phone: 304-384-3525 Fax: 304-384-7104
Bluefield Municipal Court
Address: 200 Rogers Street, PO Box 4100, Bluefield, WV 24701
Bramwell Municipal Court
Address: 100 Simmons Avenue, PO Box 338, Bramwell, WV 24715
Phone: 304-248-7114 Fax: 304-248-8333
Matoaka Municipal Court
Address: 100 Valley Street, PO Box 528, Matoaka, WV 24736
Phone: 304-467-7311 Fax: 304-467-8982
Princeton Municipal Court
Address: 100 Courthouse Road, Princeton, WV 24740
Phone: 304-487-5073 Fax: 304-487-5030