In addition to your rights, you have some legal responsibilities. the law requires you to make an appearance in your case. Your appearance date is noted on your citation, bond, summons, or release papers. You or your attorney may appear in person in open court, by mail, or you may deliver your plea in person to the court. (Juveniles have a separate set of rules for their appearance. Please read the children the Children pamphlet).
Your first appearance is to determine your plea. If your waive a jury trial and plea guilty or nolo contendere (no contest), you may present extenuating circumstances for the judge to consider when setting your fine. If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a jury trial. you may waive a jury trial and request a bench trial. When you make an appearance by mail, (mail appearance form) your plea must be post marked by your scheduled appearance date. if you plead not guilty, the court will notify you of the date of your trial.
If you enter a plea of guilty or no contest, you must also waive your right to a jury trial. You may request the amount of the fine and appeal bond in writing and mail or deliver it to the court before your appearance date. you then have up to 31 days from the time you received notice from the court to pay the fine or file an appeal bond with the municipal court.
Unless you are entitled to a compliance dismissal, you must enter one of the following pleas:
Plea of Not Guilty - A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt an require the State to prove the charge. A plea of not guilty does not waive any of your rights. A plea of not guilty does not prevent a plea of guilty or no contest at a later time.
Plea of Guilty - By plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the criminal offense charged.
Plea of Nolo Contendere (no contest) - A plea of nolo contendere means that you do not contest the states charge against you.
The difference between plea of guilty and nolo contendere is that the contest plea may not later be used against you in a civil suite for damages. For example, in a civil suit arising from a traffic crash, a guilty plea can be used as evidence of your responsibility or fault.
If you plead guilty or nolo contendere, you will be found guilty and should be prepared to pay the fine. A plea of nolo contendere waives all of the trial rights discussed earlier. If you are unable to pay the entire fine and costs, you should be prepared to document and explain your financial situation.