Ohio County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Ohio County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Ohio County.
Burden of Proof Requirement
In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Ohio County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Ohio County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
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.
Ohio County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Ohio County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Ohio 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 Ohio 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.
Appealing a Criminal Conviciton
A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.
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.
In a jury trial in Ohio 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.
Who is the prosecutor for Ohio County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Ohio County criminal cases will either be a representative of Ohio County or a representative from West Virginia. 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.
Who can help me in Ohio County?
For general information about your case the Ohio 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.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Ohio 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.
Ohio County Required Court Appearances
In Ohio 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.
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 Ohio County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Ohio County Criminal Court Locations
Ohio County Circuit Court
Address: 1500 Chapline Street, Wheeling, WV 26003
Phone: 304-234-3611 Fax: 304-232-0550
Ohio County Magistrate Court
Address: 26 15th Street, Wheeling, WV 26003
Phone: 304-234-3672 Fax: 304-234-3898
Bethlehem Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 6339, Bethlehem, WV 26003
Phone: 304-233-9527 Fax: 304-231-2187
Triadelphia Municipal Court
Address: 4453 National Road, PO Box 177, Triadelphia, WV 26059
Phone: 304-547-5000 Fax: 304-547-5025
Valley Grove Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 103, Valley Grove, WV 26060
Phone: 304-547-1550 Fax: 304-547-1223
West Liberty Municipal Court
Address: 1006 Van Meter Way, PO Box 353, West Liberty, WV 26074
Phone: 304-336-7410 Fax: 304-336-3033
Wheeling Municipal Court
Address: 1500 Chapline Street, Wheeling, WV 26003