Know Your Rights as a Defendant at Municipal Court
If you need the services of an interpreter, please notify the court administrator prior to your appearance in court.
You have many rights as a defendant at Municipal Court:
- Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
- The State must prove you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” of the offense with which you are charged.
- Every criminal defendant has the right to remain silent and refuse to testify (without consequences).
- You have the right to retain an attorney and have them try your case or answer your questions.
- Since offenses in this court are punishable only by fine and not by incarceration, you do not have the right to appointed counsel.
- You have the right to a jury trial. You may waive a jury trial and have a trial before the judge, commonly called a “bench trial.”
- If you elect to represent yourself, no person other than an attorney can assist you during a trial.
At trial you have many rights including:
- The right to have notice of the complaint not later than the day before any proceedings in the prosecution
- The right to inspect the complaint before trial, and have it read to you at the trial
- The right to hear all testimony introduced against you
- The right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against you
- The right to testify on your own behalf
- The right not to testify (Your refusal to do so may not be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt.)
- You may call witnesses to testify on your behalf at the trial, and have the court issue a subpoena (a court order) to any witnesses to ensure their appearance at the trial.