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What Is Venue In A Delaware Criminal Case?


Venue is often associated with wedding and party planning as being the site where the primary events will take place, and the term has a similar meaning in criminal law. Venue is the court and location where the case will proceed. The concepts are rooted in US constitutional law, which should convey how important venue is for a person’s rights when arrested for a crime. Under Delaware Rules of Criminal Procedure, the proceedings must take place in the county where the criminal offense was allegedly committed. When the activity spans multiple counties, venue may be proper in any of them.

However, because it is a constitutional concept, there are protections when venue in a criminal case is improper for various reasons. As such, you may take advantage of benefits by requesting a change of venue. The laws and legal concepts are complicated, so get help from a Wilmington criminal defense attorney. Some background on venue is also informative.

Basics of Venue in Criminal Cases: Jurisdiction is a court’s power to hear a criminal case in a geographic region, while venue is the geographic location where the proceedings transpire. This means that certain factors will follow your case:

  • The jurors in your case will be people who live in the county.
  • The prosecutor will be a state’s attorney from the county where venue is proper.
  • If you are being held in custody pending trial, you will be in a facility in the same county. 

Why Venue is Important: A key reason for venue rules is convenience and the notion that a defendant should not be forced to fight criminal charges in a far-off county. Another important factor is that the jury will come from a pool of your peers, so they are familiar with local and community issues. The point is fairness and avoiding prejudice against the defendant.

When to Seek a Change of Venue: When circumstances are such that you cannot expect to get a fair trial, you should consider options for requesting a change of venue. Because the focus is on fairness, you will need facts and evidence showing how the current venue is unjust. There are some common scenarios for changing venue in a criminal case:

  • The defendant is a local celebrity or otherwise well-known locally.
  • The judge harbors prejudice against the defendant, details of the crime, or other factors.
  • There was extensive publicity surrounding the criminal offense.

For claims based upon pretrial publicity, there must be evidence that the coverage was intense, continuing, and inundated the local community. The press must also be so slanted that the jury pool could not be fair in the process.

Talk to a Delaware Criminal Defense Lawyer About Venue Issues

Constitutional concepts are typically complex, but you can see how proper venue is important in a criminal case – especially if you need to change it to protect your rights. For additional details, please contact the Wilmington, DE offices of Attorney Michael W. Modica. Individuals in New Castle County can call 302.600.1262 or visit us online to set up a consultation.



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