Each ticket issued is given an appearance date. It is very important that the defendant take action on the citation, on or before their appearance date.
At the time of the first court appearance, the defendant will:
- Be advised of their rights
- Be advised of the charges pending against them
- Enter a plea on the case
Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. On a plea of not guilty, a formal trial is held. As in all criminal trials, the State is required to prove the guilt of the offense charged in the complaint, "beyond a reasonable doubt" before a defendant can be found guilty by a judge or jury.
Making a Plea
Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. Please consider each plea carefully before making a decision. If you plead guilty or nolo contendere in open court, you should be prepared to pay the fine and court costs. Review Payment Options prior to appearing in court.
Not Guilty -
A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt or that you have a defense in your case, and that the State must prove the charges against you. You will need to decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you. If you represent yourself, the following section on Trial Information will help you to understand this procedure.
A plea of not guilty will result in the case being set for trial on another date. The defendant has the option of either a trial by jury or trial by judge. A jury of six members will be selected to hear each jury case. On the date of the trial, if the defendant is found not guilty, no fine or court costs are owed and no conviction is reported on the defendant's record.
If the defendant is found guilty, a fine and court cost will be imposed and a conviction is recorded.
Nolo Contendere (No Contest)
A plea of nolo contendere means that you do not contest the State's charge against you. You will be found guilty, unless you are eligible and successfully complete a driving safety course and/or court ordered probation. A plea of nolo contendere cannot be used against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages.
- By a plea of guilty, you admit that the act is prohibited by law, that you committed the act charged, and that you have no defense or excuse for your act. Before entering a plea of guilty, however, you should understand the following:
- The State has the burden of proving that you violated the law (the law does not require that you prove that you did not violate the law);
- You have the right to hear the State's evidence and to require the State to prove you violated the law; and
- A plea of guilty may be used against you later in a civil suit (e.g.: If there was a traffic accident (another party can say you were at fault or responsible for the accident because you plead guilty to the traffic charge).
Failure to Appear
Failure to appear in court may result in:
- The filing of additional criminal charges.
- The issuance of an arrest warrant.
- The imposition of additional fines and costs.
Note: The Municipal Court does not answer any legal questions of any nature. The personnel are allowed to explain court proceedings and procedures only. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney.