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County Court Trial Division

Our criminal justice system is one of the most crucial aspects of our government. For Palm Beach County’s justice system to function optimally, the Office of the State Attorney has to efficiently and effectively address and prosecute cases.

The three major divisions of the county’s State Attorney’s Office are Felony, Juvenile and County Court. County Court handles all misdemeanor cases — more than 20,000 cases were filed in 2011. These are crimes that can be sentences to up to one year in the Palm Beach County Jail. Some examples of misdemeanor crimes are: DUI, Battery, Trespass, Possession of Marijuana, and Retail Theft.

Misdemeanor cases requiring a jury trial are administered at the main State Attorney Office in downtown West Palm Beach. In 2011 there were more than 400 misdemeanor trials, about 86 percent of them were jury trials. Each misdemeanor prosecutor handles between 400 and 500 cases at any given time.

To avoid gridlock in the downtown office, there are State Attorney satellite offices in Belle Glade, North County, South County and on Gun Club Road. Many misdemeanor cases come in to those offices daily. Many result in plea offers and pretrial diversion. Close coordination is required to insure efficient handling of all these cases. If a jury trial is requested, those cases are transferred to the main Courthouse in West Palm Beach.

Another County Court function is DUI Intake. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol is one of the most serious of offenses handled in County Court. Almost 4000 cases are reviewed annually for possible charges.

Administering the Volunteer program is another County Court task. Volunteers range from high-school students to law-school students to retirees. The volunteers gain valuable experience and insight into how the criminal justice system works. They also gain personal fulfillment. Their contributions are an integral part of the workings of the Office of the State Attorney. They save taxpayers thousands of dollars each year.

In addition, the Office of the State Attorney’s Training and Advocacy Institute helps ensure that law enforcement officers are educated regarding the ever-changing law. Well trained law enforcement insures successful prosecution. Particularly in the area of DUI cases, protection of the public can be better accomplished with better investigations.

Close working relationships with the Courts, law enforcement, private attorneys and public defenders, probation and parole, the Department of Corrections and others in the system, facilitates just resolution for all those involved in a criminal case. Public safety dictates nothing less than this dedication to justice.