Arraignment is the term used for the time scheduled for a defendant to appear in court to enter a plea. If you are charged with a traffic infraction, a notice to appear in court for arraignment will be delivered to you in person or by mail. If you signed a traffic ticket in front of an officer, it does not mean you have entered a plea; it means you have promised to appear.
You may enter a plea of:
- Guilty: You admit to committing the act charged, that the act is unlawful, and that you have no defense for the act. In most minor traffic cases, a guilty plea and fine and court costs will be accepted through the mail.
- Not Guilty: You deny guilt and ask that it be required to prove at trial that the charges are true beyond a reasonable doubt. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
- No Contest: You do not wish to contest the charge and allows the judge to find you guilty. A plea of no contest is not an admission of fault and cannot be used against you in a civil suit for damages.
The right to an attorney: In Municipal Court, you may represent yourself or you may be represented by an attorney. If you are charged with an offense that may result in jail time, you have the right to be represented by an attorney. For this type of offense, you are able to fill out a Financial Affidavit. The court will appoint an attorney to you if you meet the financial guidelines.