I am a York County Criminal Defense Attorney and I defend people accused of criminal charges filed in all York County Criminal Courts. I work from offices in both Portland and Lyman Maine. York County still maintains a division between district and superior courts so cases can start in one of several locations. There are a total of four criminal courts across York county:
- York County Superior Court in Alfred
- York District Court
- Springvale District Court
- Biddeford District Court
York County Process for Misdemeanor Criminal Charges
People charged with class D or E crimes, also know as misdemeanors, will be summonsed for an arraignment date. That’s where a person is informed of the charges and asked to plead guilty or not guilty. The arraignment will normally be in the district court nearest the location of the incident leading to criminal charges, so either in the York, Biddeford, or Springvale district court. Misdemeanor arraignments are not held in the Alfred Superior Court. Under Maine rules of criminal procedure a York County criminal defense attorney can actually enter your not guilty plea in writing, eliminating the need to attend the initial court date. This can be a huge advantage to those who live out of state, or who otherwise have difficulty attending the arraignment date.
Every defendant who pleads not guilty to a misdemeanor in York County is scheduled for a so-called “Bench Trial” date. That is a date for trial in front of a District Court Judge where a single judge will hear evidence and decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. Every criminal defendant has the right to a jury trial, but in York County, people charged with Misdemeanor crimes must opt into the Jury trial process. That means that you must a file a written jury trial request (sometimes called JTR) with the clerk of the district court within 21 days of arraignment. That request will transfer the misdemeanor case for further proceedings in the York County Superior Court in Alfred; that’s the only court in York County where Jury Trials are held. In Alfred, the case will be scheduled for a conference, for motion hearing if needed, and then for jury selection and trial after that. Failure to file the jury trial request within 21 days amounts to a waiver of your jury trial right. You also must file any pretrial motions within that same 21 day period.
York County Process for Felony Criminal Charges
People charged with class A, B or C crimes are facing felony charges. Felony crimes are also scheduled for initial appearance but all court dates will be in the York County Superior Court in Alfred. Felonies must be presented to a “grand jury” before the charges can proceed and that takes time. People are often not indicted at the time of the initial appearance and so they are not called on to enter a plea at that date. The judge will tell them what the preliminary charges are and will consider whether bail should be set or modified. At the initial appearance, the case is set for status conference, usually the indictment is returned by that conference date and the arraignment (not guilty plea) is taken at that time. There is then a period of time to review the discovery materials and file motions. The motions will be scheduled for hearing if needed, the case will then have a docket call which is another conference date, and if the case does not resolve by agreement, it will be set for jury selection and trial after that. Felony trials in York County are automatically heard by a jury unless the defendant waives that right and chooses to have a judge hear the case.
A York County Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you are facing misdemeanor charges, your lawyer can enter a not guilty plea for you and avoid your need to attend the arraignment. In fact, your attorney may be able to attend other court dates on your behalf and you might never need to go to court. For felony charges, a lawyer can simplify and streamline the arraignment process. In either case, your attorney can help you understand the process, negotiate with the prosecution, and plan a defense strategy.
For information on a specific case type, please use the menus at the top of the page. Every case is unique and you might not find the information you are looking for on this site or any other. Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss the details. Those conversations are confidential and there is never a fee for initial consultation.
I also handle cases in other locations including Androscoggin County and Cumberland County criminal courts and occasionally I will take a case in another county. I also defend Federal crimes charged in the Maine District Court in Portland.