Frequently Asked Questions
Legal Terms You May Have Questions About
- Your first appearance in any court so you can be told what charges have been filed against you.
- Through your attorney, you plead not guilty, nolo contendere (no contest), or guilty to the charges against you.
- Release on your own recognizance. You are released on your honor and word that you will be in court every day the court ordered you to be, and on time. Your failure to appear in court as told can result in the O.R. being revoked, your being placed in jail again, and additional charges being filed against you.
- Preliminary Hearing
- In felonies only, the District Attorney must present enough of the case against you so that there is a strong suspicion that a crime was committed and that you committed it. If you are “held to answer” it means that you must appear in the Superior Court for arraignment and plea. Here the felony is finally set for a Jury Trial.
- Pre Trial Hearing
- A court appearance before the Preliminary Hearing or trial to see if the case is to be continued or settled in some way. This is usually the time that a plea bargain will be made if it is appropriate.
- Plea Bargain
- The District Attorney may offer to dispose of your case by allowing you to plead to a lesser charge, or will agree to local time, etc. Your attorney will tell you of the District Attorney's offer but only you can accept or reject the offer.
- A disposition of your case at sentencing whereby the court retains control of your activities for a specified period of time through the Probation Department.
Your Lawyer Needs Your Help
The best job can be done for you only if you do the following:
- Always tell your lawyer the truth.
- Don't talk about your case with friends, relatives or jail inmates.
- Keep in touch. It is difficult for your lawyer to contact you - telephone if you have a question, change of address, or telephone number. Come in and talk with your attorney at least two weeks before trial.
- Be in court when required and on time. If late, call the Public Defender's Office and Clerk of the court you are supposed to be in.
- If you have witnesses for the defense of your case, give their names, addresses, and telephone numbers to your attorney immediately.
- When coming to court dress neatly and be personally clean and tidy.
- On occasion, other attorneys in the Public Defender's office may appear with you in court, when your attorney is not available, but your attorney will continue to handle your case to a conclusion.