Municipal Court

First Appearance/Process

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First Appearance/Process

At your initial appearance in court, you will be in court for identification and possibly for arraignment because you have been charged with a crime. The purpose of arraignment is to advise you of the charge, your constitutional rights, and to record your plea of either not guilty or guilty.

If you are indigent and cannot afford an attorney, you may request that the court appoint an attorney to represent you. You may do so by offering a statement of your financial status, under oath, when the judge inquires whether you will be hiring an attorney or wish to have an attorney appointed to represent you. You may also obtain an Affidavit of Financial Status at the court’s office and submit it to the court for consideration of appointment of an attorney at any stage of your proceedings.

If you enter a plea of not guilty, your trial will be set within 90 days from the date of arraignment. If you are in custody on this charge, your trial will be set within 60 days. A pre trial hearing will be set prior to the trial.

If you enter a plea of guilty, you are giving up your right to a trial, and the court must assume you are guilty. You will be given a chance to make a statement about your case, and you may then be sentenced by the court. However, a pre-sentence investigation may be ordered at your request or by the court. If a pre-sentence investigation is ordered, you will be interviewed by the court’s pre-sentence investigator. You will then be required to come back to court on a later date (in approximately 30-45 days) for sentencing. The sentence cannot be appealed to a higher court after a plea of guilty.

If you are in custody at the time of your arraignment, you may request that the court release you on your promise to appear for trial. If the court grants your request, you must then comply with any conditions set by the court, including future appearances in court. If the court does not grant your request for release on your promise to appear, then bail will be required and you will be released upon the posting of that amount. Failure to appear for trial or other court hearings would then result in the forfeiture of that bail and the issuance of a warrant for your arrest.

If you are guilty of a domestic violence or harassment offense, you will lose the right to possess firearms.