Arraignment and Trial
When you are issued a ticket it will have two options in most instances. One where you plead guilty by mail and send in your fine plus court costs. The other is if you which to contest the ticket. The process for contesting the ticket is as varied as there are courts in the country and change continuously. Read the directions and do what it says. In some situations it will say something to the effect that the officer will not appear in court unless you do something. If it says that then do whatever the ticket says to do to have the officer appear. If not you will be faced with an affidavit from the officer as to his testimony which you can not cross examine. You have also lost a 20% chance of having the case dismissed because the officer did not show.
The date for your appearance on the ticket is the arraignment date. In over 95% of cases the trial will not be heard on that date. That is the date you get to plead NOT GUILTY. In 5% of cases trial will be heard right after your plea. It is important to come prepared to defend yourself on that date. You can call the local court clerks office and find out what the situation will be.
If you are not prepared for trial you may motion for another trial date stating that you have not come prepared for trial expecting this to be the arraignment and nothing more. A future trial date will be set.
At the arraignment you will find many people. Some are there for arraignment, some for sentencing and some for trial. The process will go somewhat like this.
First the Judge will most likely ask if there are any attorneys present with business before the court. He will take care of that business first.
The Judge will generally then explain what this hearing is about and any rights you may have
Someone and possibly the Judge will then call the names and state what it is the person is charged with
He will ask for a plea. If the plea is Not Guilty he will set a court date. If the plea is Guilty or No Contest he will asses a fine plus court costs and inform the person to pay an assigned person. At this point some will beg for permission to take Driving School so as to avoid points. He will grant the request and inform the person to pay someone else. If you have not done so, you should read the truth about driving school. DRIVING SCHOOL
When your name is called: approach the bench and in a firm voice say NOT GUILTY
After the pleas are heard he of she will generally hold trial. If this is the situation it is advised to sit in and listen to get a feel of what the Judge is like and how the trial will proceed. If trial is not heard it is advised to sit in on trials with the same judge before your trial date to get a feel.
Find out by asking someone at the arraignment if the Judge is a Magistrate, a Commissioner, a Justice of the Peace or a real circuit court Judge.
Now is a good time to find out the difference between a Magistrate, a Commissioner, a Justice of the Peace or a real circuit court Judge. The difference and your rights under each is important to know. Each will handle a case differently.