The arraignment is the time in which you will come before the judge and be informed of the charges against you. You will also be informed of the possible minimum and maximum punishment associated with the charges against you.
By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the act charged. Before entering your plea of guilty you need to understand the following:
- You have the right to hear the city’s evidence and to require the city to prove its case. The law does not require you to prove anything.
- Your plea of guilty could be used later in a civil suit for damages as an admission by you that you were at fault.
- If you plead guilty the judge will then proceed with sentencing.
A plea of not guilty means that you are informing the court that you deny guilt and that the city must prove its charges against you. If you plead not guilty you will need to decide whether to employ an attorney to represent you at trial.
You may defend yourself, however no one else besides an attorney may represent you. If you are a minor (under 18 years of age) a parent should be present but is not required. If you plead not guilty your case will be set for a pre-trial on another date.
A no contest plea simply means that you do not wish to contest the charge against you. If you plead no contest the judge will enter a finding of guilty and proceed with sentencing. A plea of no contest cannot be used against you as an admission of guilt in a civil suit for damages.
Pre-Trials are scheduled on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. As the defendant, you have the right on your scheduled pre-trial date to speak with the city prosecutor with or without an attorney present.
The city prosecutor will review all of the information that they have available on your case and may or may not offer you a plea agreement at this time. Keep in mind that the judge does not have to adhere to the terms in the plea agreement at sentencing.