At an arraignment, the Judge advises you of the charges against you and the maximum penalties you face if convicted, informs you of your rights and asks you for a plea. The plea is your response to the charges stated in the citation(s) or complaint.
Youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for all court proceedings.
At your arraignment you will be asked to enter a plea. You may plead one of the following:
Guilty: If you plead guilty, you may explain mitigating circumstances or other relevant aspects of your case to the Judge before sentencing. There is no right of appeal from a conviction based on a guilty plea.
Nolo Contendre or No Contest: This has the same effect as a plea of guilty in Municipal Court. It may have some benefit to you if you are facing civil action as a result of the incident that led to your citation. The Judge will proceed and sentence as if you had pled guilty.
Not Guilty: If you enter a plea of not guilty, the Judge may not hear any details about your case until the officer that issued the citation is present. There will be no further discussion of the facts of your case at the arraignment. A Pro Se trial will be scheduled for a later date and time.
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: Municipal Court does not have jurisdiction in the event of this plea, and your case will be transferred to District Court.
Upon entry of a Not Guilty plea, the court will set your case for a Trial. Representing yourself at trial, without an attorney, is known as "Pro Se." The court will subpoena the officer or officers that issued your citation(s) to be present at the trial, and will notify you by mail of the trial date and time. Please advise the court if your address has changed to be sure you receive notification. The judge will guide the proceeding at the trial to make sure you have an opportunity to present an adequate defense, but the judge can not provide you with legal advice.
- Opening Statements - Both you and the officer will be allowed to provide an opening statement. The opening statement is a summary of the case you will present. Opening statements may be waived if both parties agree.
- Swearing In - The Judge will swear in all parties and witnesses involved in the case prior to testimony being heard.
- Officer Testimony and Witnesses - The officer will provide his sworn testimony and submit any evidence applicable to his case. Following, you will have the opportunity to ask the officer questions regarding his testimony. The officer may call witnesses and ask them questions or to provide testimony. You will have the opportunity to ask the witnesses questions.
- Your Testimony and Witnesses - Once the officer has finished presenting his case, you will be furnished the opportunity to provide testimony, evidence and call witnesses for your case. You are not required to provide testimony. If you chose to provide testimony, the officer will have the opportunity to ask you questions. Additionally, the officer will have the option to ask all witnesses questions.
- Closing Statements – Both you and the officer will be allowed to provide a closing statement. The closing statement is a summary of the case you presented and no new evidence may be entered. The officer is provided a rebuttal option following your closing statement.
If you will need access to a white board, DVD player, monitor for showing photos, or a computer or a system to play video and audio files, please contact the Court at least 48 hours prior to your Trial to make arrangements.
If there is anything you do not understand, you may ask the court for an explanation. If you require assistance (such as an interpreter) to understand the proceedings, please inform the court.
Court staff can:
Provide you with the status of a specific case; documentation on findings in a specific case; general information on court rules; court-approved forms for some proceedings; and, court schedules and policies.
Court staff cannot:
Provide advice about what plea should be entered; provide any legal advice; speculate about what decision the judge might make or what sentence the judge will impose; speculate about how your record at MVD will be affected or whether your insurance rates will increase.
- Trial - You have a right to a trial, to confront and cross-examine witnesses against you, and testify and present evidence on your own behalf.
- Discovery and Subpoena- Before trial, you may ask the judge to order the county to produce records relating to your case and/or to subpoena witnesses of your choosing. The court can provide you with a form in order to make this request. These requests may be approved or denied by the judge, or the judge may set a hearing with both parties present in order to make a determination about the requests.
- Attorneys- You have a right to be represented by an attorney at any and every stage of court proceedings. If the offense with which you are charged may be punished by time in jail and you qualify as indigent, you may request an attorney and the county will supply you with a public defender at no expense to you. The policy of the county has been to prosecute with an attorney if you are represented by an attorney, and to prosecute with a police officer or other non-lawyer county representative if you represent yourself.
- Bail - If you have been arrested for a violation of a local ordinance, the court may require you to post a cash bail to ensure your appearance at further proceedings. If you cannot make bail you may ask the court for a review. If you violate the conditions of release, you may be arrested again and you may forfeit your bail. After you have been sentenced, the person who posted the bail may authorize the release of the bail to pay fines and fees for the case. The bail will not be refunded until all fines and fees have been paid and other conditions met.
Fines and fees are assessed only if you are found guilty. If you choose to appear in court, the penalty after a subsequent conviction will not exceed the penalty assessment, provided that you do not miss any scheduled court appearances, including arraignment. In addition to fines and court fees, the court may impose jail for up to 90 days, probation for up to one year, and may require community service, defensive driving school, and other remedies deemed suitable by the judge.
A "Deferred Sentence" is where the disposition of the case has been postponed or delayed, pending the satisfaction of certain conditions set by the court. Upon completion, the citation is dismissed by the court. Court fees are still assessed and collected in a deferred sentence.
This guide does not cover all situations that can arise, does not prepare you to be a lawyer, and does not take the place of a lawyer.