A Plea of Guilty
If you plead guilty, you are admitting to the Judge that you have committed acts which violate a valid City law. The judge will then decide what penalty will be assessed. At this time, you will have an opportunity to tell the Judge any special circumstances that you believe lessen the seriousness of the violation. You cannot plead guilty and then in your explanation to the Judge say that you did not violate the law.
After listening to your explanation, the Judge will assess a penalty, considering the seriousness of the offense and any explanation offered by you. Remember, if you plead guilty, the Judge will find you guilty. Any explanation that is offered by you can only affect the penalty. When you plead guilty you will be giving up the following rights:
- To hire a lawyer to represent you;
- to have a trial before a court or jury;
- to call witnesses to testify for you;
- to testify for yourself
- to cross-examine any witnesses that the City may call;
- and the right to appeal the judgment
A Plea of Not Guilty
A plea of not guilty means you believe you have not violated the law. When you plead not guilty, the Judge will set a date for trial. A trial will not be held on your initial arraignment date as all necessary witnesses will not be present.
You do not need to be represented by an attorney if you want to plead not guilty. You may represent yourself at trial. If you plead not guilty and later decide to change your plea to guilty, you must reappear in court before the Judge in order to do so.