If you plead not guilty at arraignment, you will receive two court dates. The first will be for a pretrial conference and the other for a trial. The pretrial conference is an opportunity for you to review the State's evidence against you, and for the prosecutor to extend a plea offer that may resolve the case without the need for trial.
Documents to Bring with You
If you have been cited for failure to have insurance, vehicle registration, driver's license or dog license / vaccination, it will be helpful to you to obtain proof of obtaining these before the pretrial conference. If you had these items at the time of the alleged offense, please bring in proof so that the prosecutor may review it.
Once you have finished speaking with a prosecutor, you will receive instructions on where to proceed. If you agree to a plea offer, then your case can be concluded on that date. If you decline the plea offer, your case will be assigned a trial date. If you decide later to accept the plea offer, you will need to appear before a judge to change your plea.
Quite often, the best time to do this is at the time of trial. However, if you initially decline the plea offer and later decide to accept it, let the prosecutor know. A plea offer may be available only for a limited time.
Witnesses & Documentary Evidence
If you have witnesses or other evidence that you would like to have considered in your case, you will need to bring them with you on the trial date. If you need to subpoena a witness, the court clerks can assist you in the procedure you will need to take. You are entitled to be represented by an attorney, but you may also represent yourself.
Please be patient with the pretrial conference process. There are many others waiting to speak to a prosecutor and your cooperation and patience are appreciated.
If an attorney represents you, the attorney will advise you regarding the presentation of your case. If not, you need to be aware that the State will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify and presenting evidence against you.
- After each prosecution witness has finished giving testimony, you will have the right to cross-examine the witness. Your examination must be in the form of questions, and you must not argue with the witness. Do not attempt to tell your side of the story at this time. You will have an opportunity to do so later in the trial.
- After the prosecution has presented its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call witnesses of your choosing and to present evidence that is legally admissible. It is at this point that you may testify on your own behalf if you so desire.
- At the end of the trial, you will have an opportunity to summarize your case to the jury, or in a non-jury case, to the Judge. At that time, you may present any arguments that are based on the testimony and evidence presented during the trial, and that tend to show that the State has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judgment, or verdict, will be based upon the facts and evidence presented during the trial. Testimony must have been given under oath to be considered.
The facts and circumstances of the case and your prior criminal record, or lack thereof, will affect the amount of any jail sentence, fine, fee or probation assessed by the court.
- Mitigating circumstances may lower the amount of jail, fine or probation, even if you are guilty.
- Aggravating circumstances may increase the amount of jail, fine or probation.
- For some offenses, there are statutory minimum sentences that the judge must impose. In no instance, however, will sentences exceed the maximum levels of a $2,500 fine plus 80% in surcharges and/or six months in jail and/or three years probation (five years for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge), for any one complaint.
- If your criminal conduct caused a loss to another person, for example, damage to property or physical injury that caused the person to incur medical expenses or lose time from work, you may be ordered to pay restitution in the amount of the loss.
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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.