What to do if You Receive a Ticket/Citation?

Q. What should I do when I receive a ticket/citation?

A. Each citation or ticket tells you the nature of the violation charged against you and whether a court appearance is required. It also tells you the date and time when you can appear in court if you wish to contest the charge. Some citations require you to appear in court even if you want to plead guilty or no contest, but the majority of cases do not require an appearance in court if you are not disputing the charge.

Q. What will happen if I do not appear on my court date?

A. If your appearance was required on your citation or ticket a default judgment will be entered against you and the judge may order a warrant for your arrest. If your appearance was not required a default judgment will be entered against you, and if the forfeiture has not been paid, the judge will order the payment of the forfeiture. Depending on the nature of the charges, the judge may also order a driver's license suspension or revocation in addition to any forfeiture. If the forfeiture is not paid, the judge may enter an order suspending your driver's license, suspending your vehicle registration, referral of the matter to a collection agency, interception of your tax refund, or issue a warrant for your arrest. The sanction(s) ordered by the judge for not paying a forfeiture depends upon the nature of the charges.

Q. What are the different pleas I may enter?

A. You may plead that you are GUILTY, NOT GUILTY or NO CONTEST to the charge against you. If you plead Guilty, you admit you committed the violation. If you plead No Contest you declare you are neither guilty nor not guilty. You merely want to get the matter over with and pay the forfeiture. As a result of this plea you will be found guilty but this finding cannot be used against you as an admission of guilty if you appear in any other court action related to the charge against you. If you plead Guilty or No Contest, the judge will find you guilty of the charge, set the forfeiture and order any other appropriate sentence, and tell when you must pay the forfeiture or provide proof of compliance with the court order. If you cannot pay the forfeiture immediately, you may ask the judge for more time to pay. If you plead Not Guilty, you deny committing the violation charged against you. You will meet with your opponent, the City Attorney, to discuss the case. If an agreement can be reached between you and the City, the judge will review the agreement and decide whether to approve it. If you cannot reach an agreement you will be given a trial date on the case.

Q. How do I enter a plea?

A. You may enter a plea by either mailing, emailing or faxing your plea to the Municipal Court at least one week prior to the court date or by making a personal appearance in court on your scheduled court date. A pre-printed Not Guilty form is available on this website. If you decide to mail, email or fax your plea, please include your name, date of birth, citation number, type of violation and court date.

Q. What will happen after I plead NOT GUILTY?

A. The court will notify you of your new court date if you plead not guilty before your initial court date. On that next court date you with have a pretrial with the city attorney. If you do not attend, you will be found guilty as charged. If you show up on your initial court date and plead not guilty you will have a pretrial with the city attorney immediately unless you request another date to conduct the pretrial.

At the pretrial you or your attorney will meet with your opponent, the city attorney. The city attorney does not represent you or the court. The judge stays neutral and independent. The pretrial is not a trial. The judge will not hear any testimony that day. You or your attorney will discuss your case with the city attorney. It is up to you or your attorney to decide what evidence or facts you want to share with the city attorney concerning your case in the hopes of reaching a settlement. If you reach an agreement, the city attorney will submit it in writing to the judge. The judge does not have to accept the agreement, but often does. If you do not reach an agreement with the city attorney, the case will be set for a trial.