Misdemeanor charge(s) arraignment in District Court

After arrest, the defendant is brought before the District Court and informed of the charges against them. They are advised of their right to an attorney. The defendant either pleads guilty, not guilty, or stands mute (meaning they don't plead at all, which the court treats as a not guilty plea). If they plead guilty or no contest, they may be sentenced on the spot, or a sentencing date will be scheduled.

If the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge then sets bond (bail) and sets a date for a pre-trial conference. Most defendants are released on bond. A victim may contact the county jail to find out if the defendant has been released.

Plea or Trial

If the defendant pleads guilty prior to a trial, they may be sentenced that day, or a hearing date for sentencing will be scheduled. 

If there is no guilty plea, a trial may be heard by the Judge, or by a jury. During trial, the defendant is not required to testify or to present any evidence, and is not required to prove his or her innocence. The Prosecutor must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Following the trial, either the Judge or the jury renders a decision of guilty, or acquittal of the charges. If the defendant is found guilty, the Court will either sentence that day, or set a sentencing date.

Sentencing

If the conviction is for a serious misdemeanor, the victim may submit a written or oral impact statement to the Court.  The Court will then sentence the defendant. A sentence may include a fine, probation, community service, and/or a term in jail or prison. A victim of any misdemeanor may request restitution. If properly documented, the Court must order the defendant to make restitution to the victim. Your victim advocate in the prosecutor's office can assist you with any questions you may have.