Indiana County Criminal Defense

Getting charged with a crime in Indiana County marks the beginning of a challenging and likely life-altering time. The criminal process is complex, with complicated judicial procedures and processes that you must follow to protect your legal rights. As if that's not intimidating enough, there's also a lot on the line: a criminal conviction could lead to monetary fines and significant time spent in jail or prison. If you find yourself in such a situation, contact the LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team. With years of experience handling a wide range of criminal matters, we can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can call us at 888-535-3686 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

Indiana County Criminal Court

Depending on the charges and other case details, you can find yourself in two potential courts in Indiana County. At a minimum, you'll probably spend at least some time in Magisterial District Court. If your charges are more serious, you can expect to be in the Court of Common Pleas as well.

Magisterial District Court in Indiana County

Indiana County is like the majority of counties in the Commonwealth in that the early stages of most criminal proceedings begin in Magisterial District Court. These are the most common first-level or “minor” courts in the Pennsylvania court system (the other types are municipal courts that can usually be found in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), with magisterial district judges presiding over the proceedings in these courts. If you get arrested and charged with a crime, your first encounter with the Indiana County criminal court system will usually be in Magisterial District Court.

Indiana County has four districts, each with a magisterial district judge. You can find the address, fax number, and telephone number of each Magisterial District Court by going to the Magisterial District Judges section of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania website and choosing Indiana County.

Indiana County Court of Common Pleas

The Court of Common Pleas in Indiana County is a trial court and sees most types of legal matters, including criminal cases not exclusively handled by the Magisterial District Courts. For most litigation, it's the highest court in the county.

Court cases in Indiana Count will occasionally end up at higher courts, such as the Commonwealth Court, Superior Court, or the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but these courts usually handle appeals or non-criminal cases. Therefore, the Court of Common Pleas will oversee most criminal cases like drug crimes, sex crimes, DUI matters, and drug offenses. Here's the basic information about Indiana County Court of Common Pleas:

  • Address: 825 Philadelphia Street; Indiana, PA 15701
  • Phone number: 724-465-3800
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Number of judges: Three (President Judge Thomas M. Bianco and Judges Michael T. Clark and Gina R. Force).

Indiana County Criminal Procedures

The specific Indiana County court where your case ends up depends on the severity of the charges and the stage of your criminal proceeding. For example, if you're in a Magisterial District Court, you're in either the early part of your case, or you were charged with a minor criminal offense (or both). Magisterial District Court is normally responsible for:

  • Deciding whether a criminal charge should stay in Magisterial District Court or move to the Court of Common Pleas.
  • Handling preliminary hearings and arraignments.
  • Setting and accepting bail (except when charges involve murder or voluntary manslaughter).
  • Dismissing the case if the prosecution doesn't have sufficient evidence to prosecute.

Preliminary arraignment usually occurs within hours of getting arrested. At this time, bail is normally set, assuming you're eligible to be released on bail. The preliminary hearing will often take place within a few days to a few weeks of the preliminary arraignment.

The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to confirm that the Commonwealth can establish a prima facie case that you committed a crime. If you were charged with one or more misdemeanors or felonies, then the preliminary hearing is also the time when the Magisterial District Court decides how and when your case should move to the Court of Common Pleas for the next step in the criminal proceeding.

Not all criminal cases start in Magisterial District Court and end up in the Court of Common Pleas. Magisterial District Courts have primary jurisdiction over minor criminal cases (these usually relate to charges that carry a maximum of 90 days in jail) and traffic violations.

If your criminal case ends up in the Indiana County Court of Common Pleas, it will probably be for felony or misdemeanor offenses. In these cases, the Court of Common Pleas commonly deals with:

  • Formal arraignment (this is usually one to two months after the preliminary hearing).
  • Pretrial conference (within two months of the formal arraignment).
  • Pretrial conference (to handle pretrial issues, like discovery disputes and court scheduling).
  • Trial
  • Sentencing

Also, if you decide to appeal a conviction from the Magisterial District Court, it's usually the Court of Common Pleas that processes and decides the appeal.

Criminal Defense in Indiana County

Sex Crimes

Getting charged with a sex crime is particularly problematic. Not only do you face a criminal conviction that could result in spending time in jail or prison, but there's the enhanced harm to your reputation simply from being charged with a sex crime. Finally, getting convicted could mean having to register as a sex offender.

Marijuana Drug Charges

Across the country, the laws concerning the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana have been loosened or eliminated. In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana use has been legal since 2016, but recreational use still isn't legal. Because of this, you might have to deal with a marijuana criminal conviction. This could have a drastic negative effect on your professional prospects or even affect child custody.

Get Help from an Experienced Indiana County Criminal Defense Attorney

There are many steps in the criminal process in Indiana County. A misstep could be devastating, even if any charges eventually get dropped or the court acquits you of all charges. For example, not having a member of the LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team representing you during your preliminary arraignment could mean the district judge sets your bail too high or refuses to grant bail. The minute you get arrested, you need to contact us. We can be reached through our online contact form or by calling 888-535-3686.

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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