Preston County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Preston County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Preston County.
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.
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.
Preston County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Preston County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Preston County. The Preston 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.
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.
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.
Preston County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Preston County will take place at the Preston County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Preston County Criminal Court Locations.
At a sentence hearing the judge will inform the defendant of the sentence that will be imposed. This sometimes occurs at the same hearing in which the defendant is found guilty (either by trial or plea agreement). In can also occur at a later date, most often this is due to the complexity of the case where more time is needed to determine the appropriate sentence.
Who can help me in Preston County?
For general information about your case the Preston 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.
Mandatory Appearances in Preston County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Preston 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.
In a jury trial in Preston 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 happens in Preston County at an arraignment?
In Preston 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.
Preston County Criminal Court Locations
Preston County Circuit Court
Address: 101 West Main Street, Room 301, Kingwood, WV 26537
Phone: 304-329-0047 Fax: 304-329-1417
Preston County Magistrate Court
Address: 101 West Main Street, Room 201, Kingwood, WV 26537
Phone: 304-329-2762 Fax: 304-329-0855
Albright Municipal Court
Address: 2960 St. Joe Road, PO Box 121, Albright, WV 26519
Phone: 304-329-1895 Fax: 304-329-1895
Brandonville Municipal Court
Address: 37 Poplar Street, Bruceton Mills, WV 26525
Bruceton Mills Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 302, Bruceton Mills, WV 26525
Kingwood Municipal Court
Address: 313 Tunnelton Street, Kingwood, WV 26537
Phone: 304-329-1225 Fax: 304-329-1229
Masontown Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 340, Masontown, WV 26542
Newburg Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 40, Newburg, WV 26410
Reedsville Municipal Court
Address: 207 South Robert Stone Way, PO Box 397, Reedsville, WV 26547
Phone: 304-864-3437 Fax: 304-864-3427
Rowlesburg Municipal Court
Address: 42 Poplar Street, PO Box 458, Rowlesburg, WV 26425
Phone: 304-454-2441 Fax: 304-454-3025
Terra Alta Municipal Court
Address: 701 A East State Avenue, Terra Alta, WV 26764
Tunnelton Municipal Court
Address: PO Box 396, Tunnelton, WV 26444