cross country skier
Law Enforcement Emergency Response Team
Printer Friendly Version  Email A Friend  Add This  Increase Text Size  Decrease Text Size

Misdemeanor Crimes

Appearing in Court on a Citation or Misdemeanor Criminal Complaint



1. The first appearance on a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor is called an arraignment.  A Judge will advise a defendant of his or her legal rights, and may appoint a Public Defender if the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor, requests a Public Defender and is financially eligible.  A defendant, or the defendant’s attorney, will have an opportunity to speak with the prosecuting attorney at the arraignment.  If the defendant is in custody at the time of the arraignment, a judge may set bail and/or conditions of release from custody.

2. If a defendant fails to appear at the arraignment, the judge may issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

3. The defendant may enter a guilty or a not guilty plea at the arraignment.  If a guilty plea is entered, the Judge will pronounce a sentence from the bench, or may order the local probation department to complete a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) and make sentencing recommendations to the court.  If a pre-sentence investigation is ordered, the Judge will pronounce a sentence at a later date, after the completion of the PSI.  The Judge may sentence a defendant to a fine if the charge is a petty misdemeanor.  If the charge is a misdemeanor, the Judge may sentence a defendant to a fine and/or jail time, and other probationary conditions.

4. If a not guilty plea is entered in a petty misdemeanor case, the case is set for a court trial.  A court trial is a trial to a judge, not a jury.  The prosecutor has the burden of proving the State’s case beyond a reasonable doubt and must present evidence.  The defendant is presumed innocent and does not have to present evidence or testify, but may present evidence and/or testify if he/she wishes.

5. If a not guilty plea is entered in a misdemeanor case, the court sets the case for a pre-trial conference. At a pre-trial conference, the prosecutor and the defense attorney, or the defendant, if not represented by an attorney, attempt to reach a resolution of the case.

6. If the case is not resolved at the pre-trial conference, the court will set a date for a jury trial.  In a jury trial for a misdemeanor, the prosecutor has the burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt and must present evidence.  The defendant is presumed innocent and does not have to present evidence or testify, but may present evidence and/or testify if he/she wishes.

7. If the defendant is acquitted, the case is over.  If the defendant is convicted, the Court will pronounce a sentence or order probation to prepare a PSI and then pronounce a sentence.