Your Rights & Obligations

Your Rights

  • Under the American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty
  • The state must prove you guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt"
  • Every criminal defendant has the right to remain silent and refuse to testify without consequences

Your Rights Before Trial

  • You have the right to retain an attorney
  • No attorney will be appointed for you
  • You have the right to a jury trial
  • You may waive a jury trial and have a trial before the judge
  • If you elect to represent yourself, no person other than a licensed attorney can assist you during a trial

Your Rights at Trial

  • To have notice of the complaint
  • To inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you
  • To hear all testimony introduced against you
  • To cross examine witnesses who testify against you
  • To testify on your own behalf or refuse without consequences
  • To subpoena and call witnesses to testify on your behalf

Your Legal Obligations

  • The law requires you to make an appearance
  • Your appearance date is noted on your citation, bond, summons or release papers
  • You or your attorney may appear:
    • In person in open court
    • By mail, postmarked by the appearance date (adults only)
    • Delivering your plea in person to the court (adults only)
  • Your first appearance is to determine your plea of guilty, nolo contendere (no contest) or not guilty