Facing Criminal Charges in Municipal Court

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Drawing of scales of justiceDo I need a lawyer?

You must answer this question for yourself. You may either represent yourself or hire a lawyer. No other person besides you or your lawyer may represent you on your case. You may or may not qualify for a court-appointed lawyer.  The court alone can make that determination.  Once a lawyer has entered an appearance on your behalf concerning your case, your lawyer will communicate with the prosecutor in the City Attorney's Office. The prosecutor cannot speak with represented defendants without their lawyer present.

Initial appearance/Arraignment

At your initial appearance/arraignment, the Judge will advise you of your rights and explain the charges brought against you. You will be asked to enter a plea concerning the charges. The City Attorney’s Office cannot speak to you or answer questions regarding your case before you have been advised of your rights and have entered a plea.

Pretrial conference

The date for your pretrial conference will be located on the paperwork provided to you at your initial appearance/arraignment. A pretrial conference is an informal conference with the Prosecutor in the City Attorney’s Office. The pretrial conference is a Court-ordered proceeding, and non-appearance may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. You and your lawyer are required to be present in person for this conference.  Any alleged victim involved in the case has a right to be present.

If you have not obtained a full copy of your police report, a copy will be provided for you at the pretrial conference. The purpose of this conference is to come to a mutual agreement concerning the disposition of the charges, such as a plea agreement.

Postponing a court date

You will need to submit a written request to the court (with a copy to the City Attorney’s Office) to postpone any court date. Be sure to include your name, current contact information, the case number, and the reason for your request, together with any documentation, such as a doctor’s statement, to support your request. This is only a request – it is up to the court whether or not to grant the request.