In Montgomery County, an individual’s criminal case usually begins in a local magisterial court. There are many magisterial courts in smaller areas around Montgomery County. The person goes to a local magisterial court where a magistrate judge holds a preliminary hearing or be given a preliminary arraignment for a misdemeanor trial. From there, the defendant is sent to the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown where their case has most of the court hearings.
The case starts local, but then is transferred to Norristown where the majority of their courtroom appearances take place. That is where they see the Common Pleas-level judges who are most likely to hear a trial, hand down a sentence, or dismiss a case.
If you are facing Montgomery County criminal charges, you should consult with a dedicated defense lawyer today. A skilled criminal attorney could fight for you and possibly help you reach a favorable outcome to your case.
People should expect to see a magistrate judge for a misdemeanor and have a preliminary hearing scheduled to hear if there is enough evidence to take the defendant to trial. If the charges are “held for court” then they are sent to Norristown for their misdemeanor trial to take place. They do not have a special courthouse that is different from all the felony cases. The same judge hears the felony cases and misdemeanor cases, and gives a sentence they think is fair. In Montgomery County, the person is formally arraigned and goes straight to pre-trial after status. They should prepare immediately for the first pretrial status date and for trial.
Some of the most common misdemeanors in Montgomery County include DUIs and drug charges. DUIs are common charges because there are so many roads in the county and the officers police them aggressively. Many drivers are stopped for suspicion of DUI. That is an ungraded misdemeanor, but even as a misdemeanor first offense, an individual can be looking at jail time on a first DUI.
Additionally, simple possession of drugs or narcotics is a misdemeanor, including paraphernalia, is a common charge. If a police officer stops someone and they have paraphernalia on them, that is a misdemeanor charge. Low-level assault charges are heard in misdemeanor courts such as a simple assault that might be a domestic issue or other fights where the police respond.
If an individual is facing felony charges, they should expect to have their preliminary hearing at the magisterial court. At the hearing, an officer testifies and reads a statement summary about why they made the arrest. They identify their basis and the facts in the complaint that was filed. The officer reads a summary with details and then a magistrate holds the person over for court after a preliminary hearing. They then go to Norristown for a pretrial hearing before having their trial.
Depending on the judge one is assigned to in Montgomery County, they may go into a ready rotation for cases that are upcoming for trial or they might get a date asserting that their trial will happen on a certain day. As soon as someone’s case is held for court or before the time of arrest, that is when they should be thinking about hiring a lawyer. If one faces felony criminal charges in Montgomery County, they could receive a significant amount of jail time or probation as a possible penalty. Even for a first offense, the guidelines call for jail time or a significant period of probation.
Frequent felonies in Montgomery County include aggravated assaults with a serious injury to someone involved in an incident. Even when it is self-defense, a person could still be charged with aggravated assault and would have to prove self-defense at trial. Thefts of more than $2,000 are common felony cases. Even if the case is about a monetary dispute, if someone is alleged to have stolen from a store or business, fraud or theft by deception charges are heard in felony court and are filed as felonies, which can seriously disrupt someone’s ability to continue at a job or get a new job.
When someone is found in possession of an illegal firearm, especially if they have a past conviction making them ineligible to possess a firearm, that charge is heard in felony court in Montgomery County. Possession with the intent to deliver drugs may be charged when there are observed sales of narcotics, confidential informants alleging sales of narcotics, or a quantity of narcotics large enough that the district attorney believes is sufficient for possession with intent to deliver as opposed to simple possession.
Call today to learn more about Montgomery County criminal charges and how an attorney could help you.