An initial appearance for violations of traffic law or municipal ordinance is generally held at 7:45 am. Juvenile initial appearances are held at 8:15 am. The court date assigned to your case should be specified on the top of the citation and will specify if your attendance is mandatory or not.
Juvenile court is strictly confidential and the matter is held in closed court. Generally, only the parents of the juvenile and the attorney are allowed to be in court while it is in session.
When you arrive
When you arrive at court, you should put your name on the sign-up sheet, as this will allow the court clerk to know if you are present. Once signed in, have a seat and wait for your case to be called.
When your case is called
When your case is called, approach the defendant's table. The judge will give a short synopsis of the incident for which you are charged and then ask you for a plea on the charges. You may plead guilty, not guilty or no-contest.
If you plead not guilty
When you plead not guilty, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled in the future. A pre-trial conference is where you meet with the prosecuting attorney and discuss the matter with each other to see if it can be resolved. If the matter cannot be resolved, then a trial will be scheduled.
If you plead guilty or no-contest
When you plead guilty, you are telling the court that you admit to guilt on the charge(s) and if you plead no-contest, it means you are saying you are not guilty but you know that there is enough evidence to convict you. The judge will then find you guilty on the charge(s) and will impose a forfeiture and/or other court ordered programs, etc.
Failure to appear
If you fail to appear on a non-mandatory appearance charge, the court will find you guilty by default and you will be required to pay the forfeiture in full. If you fail to appear on a mandatory appearance charge, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
Failure to pay fines
If you were ordered to pay a fine/forfeiture by the Judge and you fail to do so or fail to comply with the proper payment plan, your license will be suspended and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.