Before Court Begins
Enter a Plea
You must decide upon and enter a plea to the charge against you. If you signed a citation in front of an officer, you did not plead guilty, you only signed a promise to appear in court on the appearance date.
There are three possible pleas:
- "Not Guilty"
- "No Contest"
Your decision on what plea you enter is the most important decision that you will have to make. We suggest that you read explanations before entering your plea.
Explanations of Your Plea
By a plea of Guilty, you admit you committed the act charged, the act is prohibited by law and you have no defense for your act. Before entering a plea of guilty you need to understand the following:
The City has the burden of proving its case against you. You have the right to hear the City's evidence and to require the City to prove its case when you go to trial.
If you were involved in a traffic accident at the time of the alleged offense, your plea of guilty could be used later in a civil suit for damages as an admission by you that you were at fault or were the party responsible for the accident.
A plea of Not Guilty means you are informing the Court you deny the 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, but no one else except an attorney may represent you. If you are under 18 years of age, a parent or guardian should be present. If you defend yourself, please consult The Trial Process and the manner of Presenting Your Case shown below.
A plea of No Contest simply means you are informing the Court you deny charges against you, but you wish to talk to the Judge about mitigating circumstances. Judgment will be entered by the Judge and some penalty will be set. A plea of No Contest cannot be used against you in a civil suit for damages. Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On a plea of "Not Guilty" a trial is held and the City is required to prove all the allegations against you as contained in the formal complaint "beyond a reasonable doubt" before a verdict of guilty can be reached.