Criminal Complaints/Charges

Arraignment & Plea

The charges against you allege that your actions were unlawful. You will need to appear in court at an arraignment to enter a plea on those charges.

What to Do if a Formal Complaint or Citation Has Been Filed Against You with the Flagstaff Municipal Court

If you were issued a citation by a police officer, your initial court date will be written on the citation. If you received a summons from the Court, your arraignment date will be the court date indicated on our summons. If you fail to appear for Court on the date and time indicated, the Court may issue a warrant for your arrest.

Under the American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Your decision on what plea to enter is an important one. 

Possible Pleas

There are three possible pleas to a criminal charge:

  • Plea of Not Guilty. This means that you are informing the court that you deny guilt, and that the State must prove the criminal charge(s) against you. The State is represented by the City Attorney's Office.
  • Plea of Guilty. You admit that you committed the act(s) charged in the complaint, that the law prohibits such acts, and that you have no legal defense for your conduct. 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.
  • Plea of No Contest. This plea, also known as nolo contendere, means that you are not admitting guilt and not denying it. You are saying that you do not wish to contest the State's charge against you. Upon a plea of no contest, the Judge will enter a judgment of guilty. Unlike a plea of guilty, a plea of no contest cannot be used against you in a civil suit.


You will enter your plea with the Judge at your arraignment. Unless your case involves a "victim" who has asked to be present, no witnesses will be present at arraignment and no testimony will be taken. At arraignment, the Judge will not grant a defendant's request to dismiss any charges. You will simply enter your plea to the charge(s) against you.

  • If you enter a plea of guilty or no contest, you may be sentenced immediately following the Judge's acceptance of your plea or you may be sentenced at a later date.
  • If your plea is "not guilty," a pretrial conference will be scheduled followed by a trial setting. You must decide, if you have not already done so, whether to employ an attorney to represent you.
  • You may represent yourself, but no other person except an attorney may represent you on your case. Under some circumstances, a court-appointed attorney may be provided to you.
  • If you feel that you cannot afford an attorney and wish representation, you may fill out an application, provided by the Flagstaff City Court, requesting that an attorney be appointed to represent you. An examination of your financial status will be made to determine if you are entitled to a court-appointed attorney. If you are eligible, you may be ordered to pay a portion of the attorney's costs. In most cases, you will not be granted a court-appointed attorney unless the State is seeking jail time. Of course, you may always hire your own attorney.
  • For some types of offenses, diversion programs offered by the City Attorney's Office may provide an alternative to the normal trial process.

Disclaimer: The information in this Website is for general purposes only and should not be construed as specific legal advice by the City Attorney's Office or its attorneys. If you have specific legal questions, please consult with your own lawyer. Sending us an email will not make you a client of this office or establish an attorney-client relationship. Anything you send us will not be confidential or privileged.