Beaver County Criminal Defense

Court officials in Beaver County will pursue the maximum penalties the state legislature allows when managing criminal charges. Although individuals may think they can navigate the criminal process alone, it can quickly derail their future. Robust and effective representation is only a phone call away. 

Known throughout Beaver County, the LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has proven experience protecting the rights of those accused and charged with crimes. We have what you need to handle the criminal process and can provide strong courtroom representation to obtain the best outcome possible. Call the LLF Law Firm now at 888-535-3686 or visit us online

Beaver County Criminal Procedures 

Beaver County handles crimes by dividing responsibilities between the Magisterial District Courts and the Court of Common Pleas. For the initial steps of the criminal process, eight Magisterial Courts located throughout Beaver County handle the issuance of warrants, setting bail, preliminary arraignments and hearings, and dismissing or transferring a case.  

The Court of Common Pleas manages legal actions like formal arraignment, judge or jury trials, pre- and post-trial motions, and sentencing. Unlike the Magisterial District Courts, there is only one location for the Court of Common Pleas: The Beaver County Courthouse at 810 Third Street, Beaver, Pennsylvania.  

Beaver County Magisterial District Court Procedures  

The preliminary arraignment occurs before one of Beaver County's eight Magisterial District judges, either in person or through a videoconference. If the judge sets bail, the amount depends on the facts of the case. 

The type of offense is one of the most important parts of how the judge will determine how the case proceeds. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania places crimes into three categories: 

  • Summary Offense: Crimes with a maximum sentence of 90 days incarceration and are usually adjudicated in Magisterial Court. 
  • Misdemeanor: First-degree crimes carry up to five years of incarceration and no more than $10,000 in fines; second-degree crimes up to two years of incarceration and no more than $5,000 in fines; and third-degree crimes up to one year of incarceration and no more than $2,500 in fines. Some are completed in a Magisterial District Court, but many are heard by the Court of Common Pleas. 
  • Felony: First-degree crimes carry up to 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines; second-degree crimes up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines; and third-degree felonies up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. Felony charges will be handled by the Court of Common Pleas. 

Nevertheless, the Beaver County Magisterial District Court will also look further into the situation to determine if the accused must have a bail set. The following will also influence the decision: 

  • The motivations behind the offense (factors of aggravation or premeditation). 
  • Ties to Beaver County (work, family, community engagement). 
  • Whether you have previous convictions or other legal orders against you. 
  • Whether the judge believes you may endanger the community. 

After setting bail, if necessary, the judge will also set a date for a preliminary hearing. Before that part of the process, you and your legal representation will receive a copy of any reports filed against you, such as a police report or a complaint submitted to law enforcement, which may include initial evidence. 

Preliminary Hearing  

At the preliminary hearing at the Magisterial District Court, the Commonwealth is tasked with establishing a "prima facie" case against the accused. Although the prosecution has the burden of proof, they only have to provide a "first glance" substantiation of the charges as a measure to proceed with a trial. 

Either party in the matter has the opportunity to present evidence at the preliminary hearing. However, the presiding judge will only determine its sufficiency in supporting the charges, not decide on the evidence's credibility. When the prosecution does not have enough evidence to confirm the charges against you, the Magisterial District Court judge may dismiss the case. Otherwise, they will refer it to the Court of Common Pleas. 

Beaver County Court of Common Pleas  

The first step for the accused at the Court of Common Pleas is formal arraignment, where there is a formal presentation of charges against you. Additionally, this stage is where the court advises you of your pretrial rights, such as the following: 

  • Requesting evidence 
  • Motions to dismiss evidence 
  • Entering into a plea agreement 
  • Motions for discovery 
  • Continuance requests 

For every case in which the offense carries more than six months of incarceration (misdemeanors and felonies), the defendant has the right to a jury trial before 12 Beaver County residents. Before the trial, a jury selection date is scheduled to determine the credibility of jurors. However, you have the right to waive a jury trial and instead have the trial before a single judge. 

Trial and Sentencing  

During the trial at the Court of Common Pleas, the defense and the prosecution have the ability to present evidence and witness testimony to build validity of their case for either the judge or the jury. Everything documented until this point—evidence shared between the parties, witness lists, and charges—is typically established. In criminal cases, the Commonwealth (the prosecution) bears the burden of proof. 

Depending on the nature of the case, the trial could be continued to allow for further arguments. Nevertheless, once the defense and the prosecution make closing statements, the judge will render a verdict or order the jury to deliberate and reach a collective verdict. 

For "not guilty" verdicts, the trial process ends immediately, and the defendant is released. If you are found "guilty," the judge will schedule a sentencing hearing. The Beaver County Adult Probation Department will prepare a pre-sentence investigation report in time for the sentencing hearing, and the following factors can influence the punishment handed down: 

  • Responsibility to the community 
  • Work and family duties 
  • Prior criminal convictions 
  • Probability of re-offense 
  • Medical conditions 

At the sentencing hearing, the defense may argue for sentencing conditions, such as lessening the period of incarceration, altering the location of imprisonment, and others related to the punishment. Yet, the judge may allow those related to the victim to give verbal or written statements in favor of the maximum penalties under the law. The judge will then hand down the sentence, which begins immediately but can be postponed under certain circumstances. 

Appealing Beaver County Criminal Convictions  

Even if the sentencing starts following the hearing, you still have avenues of redress. Individuals convicted and sentenced for Beaver County crimes can appeal the judge or jury's decision to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Appeals, including all supporting documentation, must be filed within 30 days of the sentencing date or after post-sentencing motions are resolved. 

An appeal is not an additional trial. The Superior Court will only explore specific issues the defense believes the Court of Common Pleas decided incorrectly, such as identifying bias or procedural inconsistencies using the trial transcript and evidence alone. If unsuccessful, you may also appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but few petitions are granted standing. 

Experienced Beaver County Criminal Defense Team  

If you're facing criminal charges, the process can easily upend your everyday life. Beaver County will take a relentless approach to prosecuting crimes, and you need to be prepared to exercise the same effort in defending yourself. With your future at stake, there's no better value than having a team of professionals on your side. 

The LLF Law Firm stands ready to defend you in Beaver County and create a strategic defense that asserts your rights. We will ensure you have the representation you need to press for the best outcome. Call us now at 888-535-3686 or schedule an online consultation

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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