Municipal Court Procedures

This information is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. If you have questions about your best course of action, what plea to enter, your rights, or the consequences of a conviction of the offense for which you are charged, you should contact an attorney. Clerks, judges and prosecutors cannot give legal advice.

Your Rights

  • Under the American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
  • The State must prove you guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."
  • Every criminal defendant has the right to remain silent and refuse to testify without consequences.

Your Rights Before Trial

  • You have the right to retain an attorney.
  • No attorney will be appointed for you.
  • You have the right to a jury trial.
  • You may waive a jury trial and have a trial before the judge.
  • If you elect to represent yourself, no person other than a licensed attorney can assist you during a trial.

Your Rights At Trial

  • To have notice of the complaint.
  • To inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you.
  • To hear all testimony introduced against you.
  • To cross examine witnesses who testify against you.
  • To testify on your own behalf or refuse without consequences.
  • To subpoena and call witnesses to testify on your behalf.

Your Legal Obligation

  • The law requires you to make an appearance.
  • Your appearance date is noted on your citation, bond, summons or release papers.
  • You or your attorney may appear:
    • in person in open court
    • by mail, postmarked by the appearance date
    • delivering your plea in person to the court
  • Your first appearance is to determine your plea of guilty, nolo contendere (no contest) or not guilty.

Entering a Plea

  • Plea of Guilty: By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the criminal offense charged.
  • Plea of Nolo Contendere (no contest): A plea of no contest means that you do not contest the State's charge against you.
  • Plea of Not Guilty: A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt and require the State to prove the charge. A plea of not guilty does not waive your right to appeal or to a jury trial. A plea of not guilty does not prevent a plea of guilty or no contest prior to trial.

The difference between a plea of guilty and no contest is that the no contest plea may not later be used against you in a civil suit for damages.

For example, in a civil suit arising from a traffic crash, a guilty plea can be used as evidence of your responsibility or fault.

After a Finding of Guilt

If you plead guilty or no contest, or are found guilty by a judge, you should be prepared to pay your fine and costs in full. If you are unable to pay in full, you should be prepared to document and explain your financial situation.

How to Enter a Plea of Not Guilty

  • You may appear in person or you may appear by mail by completing the plea form on this website under municipal court documents/ forms.
  • The plea form must be received before your appearance date on your citation.
  • If you choose to appear by mail you must include a self addressed envelope.

Please Note: Persons entering a plea of not guilty are not eligible for Defensive Driving or Deferred Disposition.