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Delaware Court Records

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What To Do If You Are On Trial For a Crime in Delaware

All persons on trial for a crime in Delaware have a right to legal representation. Other rights as contained in the Delaware Criminal Code include the right to remain silent, right to a speedy, fair, and public trial. Depending on the severity of the crime, defendants may choose to be tried by a jury or judge. Jury trials in Delaware are taken to the Superior Court, while bench trials may be resolved at the Court of Common Pleas. During the trial, the alleged offender may agree to plea bargain to quickly resolve the criminal case to save time and the cost of legal fees. In such instances, the defendant usually pleads guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

● The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile

● The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in Delaware?

The 2018 caseload statistics published by the Delaware Judicial Branch shows a total of 5,056 criminal cases and 13,076 civil cases filed at the superior court. Out of this number, 206 (4%) cases went to trial, while 3,443 (68%) cases were resolved during plea bargains. Summarily, most criminal cases in Delaware are resolved through plea agreements and never make it to trial.

When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

In Delaware, the right to a trial is the fundamental right of an accused criminal. However, this right may be waived by the offender. Most offenders choose a plea bargain to negotiate the standard fines and punishments associated with their crimes. Generally, a criminal trial will be set up when the defendant pleads not guilty to the charges presented during the arraignment.

What Are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in Delaware?

A selected jury or presiding judge may hear criminal trials in Delaware. The four stages of non-jury trials in Delaware are:

● Opening statements

● Presentation of evidence and witnesses

● Closing arguments

● Verdict

On the other hand, here are the seven stages of jury trials in Delaware:

  • Selection of jury
  • Opening statements from both parties
  • Presentation of evidence and witnesses
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury instructions
  • The verdict of the jury
  • Jury information

How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Delaware?

The speedy trial policy in Delaware requires that all criminal cases be resolved within one year. As such, all criminal proceedings before the trial must take place within the specified time. However, a case may take some months or even a year before reaching trial; this is often due to allegations filed against the defendant. Misdemeanors and other minor crimes require lesser waiting periods before trial. The accused offender may also choose to waive the right to a speedy trial to allow further investigation.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Delaware?

Alleged offenders are expected to appear before the criminal court. The indictment or trial information will be read out to the defendant, who must then make a guilty or not guilty plea to the charges leveled. In Delaware, every suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the case will proceed to the trial stage if the defendant pleads not guilty. At the arraignment, the defendant may also choose to be tried by the judge or jury.

Non-jury or bench trials are presided by the judge, who gives the final judgment. This trial starts with the state prosecutor’s opening statement, who is elected by the Attorney General of Delaware. Afterward, the defendant may also make an opening statement. The state representative is expected to present witnesses after the opening statement, and each witness may be questioned by the state prosecutor, the defendant’s lawyer, and the judge.

Subsequent to direct and cross-examination of the defendant’s witnesses, rebuttals and arguments proceed. Rebuttals are evidence or witnesses called to oppose the evidence submitted by the other party. Both sides get the opportunity to present closing ideas before the judge passes the final judgment.

A jury trial is presided by the judge while the jury passes the verdict. This trial follows a similar pattern to the non-jury trial. However, after the closing arguments, the judge will read out the jury’s instructions. After the charge is given, the jurors may take some time to deliberate on their decision before presenting the final verdict through the foreperson.

Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Delaware?

No, the double jeopardy clause under the Delaware constitution and the United States Fifth Amendment protects criminal defendants from being sentenced (acquitted or convicted) twice for the same crime. Note that criminal cases are not the same if:

  • Both offenses each require evidence of an additional fact that is not contained in the other crime.
  • Different verdicts were given for separate offenses that violate the same statute.
  • The same offense constitutes a violation of the laws of more than one jurisdiction.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Delaware?

In Delaware, criminal court records are accessible to public members, as stated in the Delaware Freedom of Information Act. As a result, interested persons may contact approved authorities in the state to look up criminal case files. Requesters may contact the court administrator in each superior court to obtain access to these records. Note that not all information on a criminal case record is open to the public.

Alternatively, requesters may use third-party websites like DelawareCourtrecords.Us to obtain public criminal court files in Delaware.

How to Access Electronic Court Records in Delaware

The Delaware Judiciary only makes provisions for electronic civil court records. Requesters may only gain access to criminal court records by visiting the courthouse where the final verdict was passed. To lookup civil court records online, requesters should navigate to the Delaware State CourtConnect website. Civil court records can be found on the statewide repository by inputting the person’s name, business, or case type. Interested persons may also search for judgments against businesses or individuals.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Delaware?

Public court records in Delaware may be removed or concealed from the public in two ways. The first method, known as mandatory expungement, is handled by the State Bureau of Identification. The SBI, a unit under the Delaware State Police, may grant the expungement application if the conviction was passed at least five years ago, and the offender has no conviction history. Ex-convicts that are ineligible for the first method may try the second, known as discretionary expungement. In this method, the offender may submit an expungement petition form to the superior court. Note that at least seven years must have passed since the conviction before making this request. The Attorney General of Delaware may respond to the petition while the superior court weighs the facts in the petition and sets up a hearing to determine if the request will be granted.

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