Criminal Complaints / Charges
Not all charges in Justice Court are issued in citation format but, rather, are filed by the County Attorney as a criminal complaint. During an initial appearance before the Judge, a Defendent will, in part, be advised of their rights and recieve a copy of the Complaint. Unless the Complaint is a felony, a Defendant will enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or nolo contendere (a plea where the Defendant does not admit guilt, but believes that a Judge or jury would issue a guilt verdict).
A not guilty plea results in an omnibus hearing (pretrial) being scheduled as well as a jury or bench trail. Defendants may be entitled to a Court appointed attorney if he/she cannot afford an attorney and if the offense could result in jail time. Conditions of release and, if applicable, a bail amount will be issued by the Judge. If a Defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere, a sentence will be imposed by the Judge.