A Plea of Guilty

A plea of guilty is an admission to the Judge that the defendant has committed an act, or acts, that violates a municipal ordinance.

  • The Judge will notify the defendant before entering a plea if there is the possibility of a jail sentence.
  • If a defendant enters a guilty plea, the Judge will find the defendant guilty.
  • A defendant cannot plead guilty and then in an explanation to the Judge say that they did not violate the law.

The defendant will have an opportunity to tell the Judge any circumstances they believe lessen the seriousness of the violation. After listening to the defendant's explanation, the Judge will assess a penalty, considering the seriousness of the offense and any explanation offered by the defendant. Any explanation that is offered can only affect the penalty to be imposed.

The following rights are waived by the defendant when entering a guilty plea:

  • To hire a lawyer
  • To have a trial before a court
  • To call witnesses to testify
  • To testify for him/herself
  • To cross-examine any witnesses that the City may call
  • To appeal the judgment

A Plea of Not Guilty

A plea of not guilty means the defendant believes he or she has not violated the law.

  • The Judge will set a date for trial.
  • The trial will not be held on the initial arraignment date as all necessary witnesses will not be present.
  • A defendant may represent him/herself at trial; an attorney is not required to plead not guilty.
  • If a defendant pleads not guilty and later decides to change the plea to guilty, the defendant  must appear in court on the trial date before the Judge.

A defendant has the right to a jury trial, but all trials in the municipal division are bench trials. Jury trials are held on cases certified to the Associate Division.
 
Do not contact the Office of the Public Defender, as they do not represent individuals in Municipal Court cases. 



Appointment of Counsel

  • If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the defendant.
  • There is not a constitutional right to have a court-appointed attorney if jail is not a possible punishment.
  • A defendant may request a continuance to hire an attorney. 

Appointment of Interpreter

If a defendant is in need of an interpreter, inquire at the Court office before the court date so arrangements can be made for an interpreter to appear in Court. Court Interpreters must be certified.