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.

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.