After a citation (ticket) is issued or a Summons and Complaint is served, the defendant must appear in court for an arraignment. At this first appearance, the court will advise the defendant of their rights and their choices for resolving the case. A defendant may plead not guilty, guilty or no contest to the charges alleged against them. A defendant may also ask for a continuance to speak to, or hire a lawyer before entering a plea.
Every defendant has the right to be represented by a lawyer; however, the Court will only appoint an attorney to represent a defendant for free if the defendant is facing jail as a possible sentence in the case and the defendant is indigent. If you do not qualify for court appointed defense counsel, you may hire a private lawyer of your choice. Defendants do not need lawyers to plead not guilty and go to trial. Most defendants appearing in Municipal Court do not have defense lawyers but rather represent themselves.
Pleading Not Guilty
If a defendant enters a plea of not guilty, the Court will assess a $25 trial fee and the defendant will be given two new court dates. The first court date is a pre-trial conference with the prosecuting attorney. The pre-trial conference is the defendant’s chance to talk to the prosecuting attorney and try to resolve the case prior to trial. The second court date the defendant will receive is the actual trial date. If the case is not resolved at the pre-trial conference, the defendant must appear for the trial to avoid a bench warrant.
A trial may be to the Court or to a jury. A defendant must request a jury trial in writing and pay a $25 jury fee within 21 days of entering their not guilty plea. Jury Request Forms are available from the clerks in Municipal Court or on the Court’s website. Failure to file the written jury request and pay the $25 jury fee within the 21 days will result in a waiver of the defendant’s right to a jury trial and the case will be tried to the Court.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest
If a defendant enters a plea of guilty or no contest, there will not be a trial and the Court will impose a sentence. A plea of guilty means the defendant is admitting he/she committed the charges against them and is willing to accept the consequences. A plea of no contest means the defendant is not admitting he/she committed the charges against them but is willing to accept the consequences anyway.
Most traffic cases do not require a mandatory appearance before the Judge. Tickets that do not require a mandatory appearance can be resolved on-line, by mail or in person any time between 48 hours after issuance of the ticket and the arraignment date written on the ticket. If you choose to resolve your case by mail, your payment must be received by the Court on or before your arraignment date or default may be entered against you. Please note that if you enter a plea of guilty or no contest and/or make payment on-line, by mail or in person the points will be turned into the Department of Motor Vehicles and will be assessed against your Drivers License, unless you received a deferred sentence. You must appear in person to get a deferred sentence or to plead not guilty.
Traffic tickets that require a mandatory appearance before the Judge include but are not limited to 6-point violations, 8-point violations, and 12-point violations. You may call the Court at (719) 562-3810 to determine if your case requires you to appear before the Judge. Traffic Arraignments are on Tuesday Mornings at 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. Please refer to your ticket or call the Court if you are unsure of your arraignment date and time.
General Sentencing and Payment Information
Before entering a plea, you may want to consider the following general sentencing and payment information.
Fines, Fees, Costs, and Restitution:
All fines, fees, costs and restitution are due at the time you enter a plea of guilty or no contest, or are found guilty after a trial. All defendants, except those charged with traffic infractions and red light camera tickets, may enter a payment plan allowing them to ninety (90) days to pay all fines, fees, costs and restitution owed to the Court. (All traffic infractions and red light camera tickets must be paid in full at the time adjudication.) You will be charged a $25 payment plan fee. You may request extensions of the payment plan at the end of the ninety (90) days if you need more time to pay.
Anyone on a payment plan may work community service to pay their fines and will receive credit at the rate of $10 per hour for every hour of community service worked. All community service must be completed through the Court’s Community Service Program unless the Court authorizes outside community service. Generally, only fines can be worked off with community service. Fees and costs must be paid unless the Court finds you indigent and authorizes you to work off fees and costs. Restitution may never be worked off through community service.
Failure to pay fines, fees, costs and restitution within the time allowed may result in referral of your case to collections.