Your Court Appearance
If you are unable to have an attorney present at your appearance there are some basic facts every person should be aware of before they stand before a Judge.
An appearance in court for most people is a new experience and can be somewhat unnerving. We hope this brief summary of the procedures of Kettering Municipal Court and your rights will be of some assistance to you.
If you should have any questions regarding your rights or the procedures of this Court, please ask the Judge/Magistrate at the time of your arraignment.
Your First Appearance Before the Judge
The following will happen when you appear before the Judge for the first time:
- The Judge, will explain the complaint to you which details the offense(s) you are charged with, and will explain it to you if you do not understand the nature of the charge(s). The Judge will also advise you of the potential penalties.
- You will have the opportunity to ask questions that you have on the rights explained here, the charge, or the maximum penalty possible under the law.
- You will have the right to retain an attorney even if you intend to plead guilty, and a right to a reasonable continuance to secure an attorney.
- If you do not intend to be represented by an attorney, you will be asked to sign a waiver form, if the potential sentence in your case carries possible jail time.
- Please do not make statements concerning the facts of your case until the Judge asks you for a statement. Any statements you make may be used against you at a trial if a plea of not guilty is entered.
Pleas You May Enter and Your Rights Under These Pleas
You may choose to enter any of these pleas when you appear before the Judge:
- NOT GUILTY PLEA
- By pleading NOT GUILTY, you are denying the charge. The prosecution will be required to prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial. THE TRIAL WILL BE SET FOR A LATER DATE.
- If the offense you are charged with carries the potential for jail time as a possible sentence, you can demand a jury trial. If you desire a jury trial, you must file a written jury demand no less than ten (10) days prior to the date set for your trial, or on or before the third day following receipt of notice of your trial date, whichever is later. Failure to file a written jury demand waives your right to a jury trial, and your trial will be heard by a Judge.
- If you are charged with an offense that carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for one year in jail, your case will automatically be set for a trial to be heard by a jury, unless you sign a waiver of that right.
At the trial, you have the following rights:
- You have the right to be represented by an attorney.
- You have the right to request in writing that subpoenas be issued by the Clerk of Court to compel the attendance of witnesses on your behalf at trial.
- You have the right to testify or not testify in your own defense. Under the Constitution, you are not required to give testimony against yourself. However, if you do take the witness stand, you may be subject to cross-examination by the Prosecuting Attorney.
- You have the right to cross-examine witnesses testifying against you.
- You have the right not to make any statements, nor take the witness stand, unless you choose to do so.
The plea of GUILTY is a complete admission of your guilt. If you plead guilty, you will be permitted to give a statement or explanation to the Judge before the sentence is imposed.
NO CONTEST PLEA
The plea of NO CONTEST is not an admission of your guilt, but is an admission of the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint or citation, and the plea or admission shall not be used against you in any pending or subsequent civil or criminal proceeding.
On a plea or finding of guilty, the Court will normally impose a fine and court costs. You are charged court costs even if you are cited for a “waiverable” offense which allows you to waive your appearance in Court and pay a fine through the Violations Bureau at the Clerk’s Office window without appearing before the Judge.
In addition to these costs, your sentence may include a fine amount, probation, which includes additional costs, or jail time, depending on your offense.
Points On Your License
Before entering a plea to any traffic offense, you should be aware that the Court is required to report the results of its findings to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles under the point system. This means that, depending on the nature and number of any previous violations, you may expect to hear from the State of Ohio concerning your privilege to drive. Specifically, if you have accumulated twelve (12) or more points within the previous two years, your license is subject to a suspension by the State of Ohio for a period of six (6) months. You should also be aware that the Court has the authority to suspend your privilege to drive in some cases, and in some cases is required to do so.
If you intend to enter a plea of guilty or no contest to a traffic offense, you should have your operator’s license available for the Judge’s inspection when your case is called.